While the Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall has sought to justify the use of monies
from the government, for medical treatment, by stating that it was approved by Cabinet and that it was an “entitlement” enjoyed by all members of Cabinet, the Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds has contradicted this.
In an interview with Kaieteur News via telephone yesterday, Hinds said that he would not call the monies approved for certain emergencies as an entitlement. The Prime Minister disclosed that such discretion by Cabinet “is not something that is automatic. It is something that would require much review.”
Nandlall in a profanity-laced recorded conversation with Kaieteur News reporter, Leonard Gildarie, said that he “used money from the government… and pay back long before” Kaieteur News Publisher, Glenn Lall “made an issue of it.”
However, in a statement on Tuesday which was released by a public relations consultant on Nandlall’s behalf, the Minister said, “I wish to set the record straight …the reference relates to the reimbursement I received for monies I expended on medical treatment. This reimbursement was approved by Cabinet in a written Cabinet decision dated 20 June 2013. This is, and historically has been, an entitlement of every member of Cabinet long before my appointment.”
This publication sought to ascertain from several government officials what are the conditions surrounding this kind of “entitlement” for reimbursements for medical expenses by Cabinet members.
But while some calls proved to be futile, some ministers, for example, the Junior Minister of Finance, Bishop Juan Edghill told this publication that he would not be able to be of assistance since he does not know the specifics of what he was being told about.
However, when contacted yesterday, Prime Minister Hinds, who is currently out of the country, was asked if this sort of entitlement for Nandlall was indeed approved by Cabinet, as he claimed, and if the circumstances surrounding medical treatment amounted to an emergency.
The Prime Minister declined to answer on that matter stating that he was not apprised of all the facts and preferred to have all the “statements and or facts” before him before making any comment in that regard.
The question was then rephrased to the Prime Minister, this time in a more general sense. He was asked if there is any entitlement for Cabinet Members for monies for medical expenses or emergencies and the criteria governing this privilege.
To this he responded, “I would not call it an entitlement. It is not something that is automatic. It really is a hard question to respond to, but what I would say is that one would have to review the long series of circumstances surrounding the need for money in that kind of situation. It would depend on the nature of the emergency for money to be granted. It’s not like a Minister could come and say he has a broken foot or something and just ask for money and it would be approved. The circumstances would have to be examined. It would definitely depend on that.”
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)’s General Secretary, Joseph Harmon at the coalition’s press conference last week, told media operatives that there are many parts of the infamous recorded conversation that APNU has not touched as yet.
Harmon however, had emphasized that the money Nandlall said he took was not approved by the Parliament for any such reason. The politician had said that this indicates that such a transaction is a “callous betrayal of the citizen’s trust and the fair way in which state resources are supposed to be allocated.”
Additionally, Vice Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Moses Nagamootoo in a letter to the editor said that he had found Nandlall’s admission that he had accessed and used government’s money for a personal purpose, which he claimed that he has since repaid, to be most disgusting.
Nagamootoo had lent much support to APNU’s intention to launch an investigation into the financial indiscretion. The Parliamentarian had said that the behaviour of the country’s Attorney General raises eyebrows.
He emphasized that an investigation into that transaction ought to take place now.
Since the damning recording, the Publisher of the Kaieteur News Glenn Lall lodged a formal complaint with the Guyana Police Force. The file is expected to be sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions soon.
The pressure for Nandlall to demit office immediately continues to increase from the citizenry, the legal fraternity, international and regional bodies, as well as the joint political Opposition.
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