– total cost of inquiry exceeds $325M
By Abena Rockcliffe
As he opined that the Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) probably never envisioned defeat, Attorney General, Basil Williams, revealed that he has already discovered evidence of PPP careless utilization of the state’s financial resources.
Williams noted that to date, the previous administration spent over $325M on the “witch-hunt” it disguised as a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the death of Dr. Walter Rodney.
Of that amount, $150M has been expended on salaries for the three commissioners, two lawyers and “a certain journalist.”
Williams divulged this information yesterday during an interview at his Carmichael Street Office.
The Minister was reluctant to share the name of the journalist who benefited heftily from the COI, but noted that the individual was paid US$7,300 per month. This journalist has since been identified as Canada-based Shaun Samaroo.
Williams said that Samaroo was handed US$80,300 ($16.8M) for his work which the PPP obviously found to be quite exquisite.
Even when pressed to reveal the journalist’s name, Williams held out that the person’s identity will be revealed in due time.
However, the Attorney General indicated that “he” was attached to a state media entity. Williams also noted that the entity is classified as print media, eliminating the National Communication Network (NCN) and the Government Information Agency (GINA). This means that this millionaire journalist
was attached to the only other state media house—the Chronicle.
“They didn’t know the government would have changed,” said Williams as he inferred that the PPP thought this would have never been revealed.
Williams told the media that this “useless” venture has already cost the state too much and the new government will therefore seek to ensure that the Commission wraps up its work soon “We are going to wind it down, we can’t afford it.”
The $325M quoted by Williams does not include the costs for future sittings, the next of which should take place in July.
Before the CoI is concluded, however, the various lawyers will be allowed to make submissions, after which the Commissioners must present their decision.
Williams said that there will be a sitting for submissions to be made, upon completion of which, the Commissioners would render their decision on the matter.
He said that the lawyers would most likely be given a three-week notice to prepare their final submissions.
“We are convinced that the real reason for it was political” said Williams.
However, he said that the PPP’s plan backfired as the electorate showed that it did not believe “this contention that the PNC was responsible for Dr. Rodney’s death.”
He also said that the CoI ended up serving “no useful purpose aside from vindicating the PNC…It was hearsay upon hearsay upon hearsay.”
Williams represented the interest of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) at the CoI. Because of his new position, Williams will have to withdraw. He will most likely be replaced by Attorney at Law James Bond.
On June 13, 1980 Dr. Walter Rodney, a scholar, social activist and founder of Working People’s Alliance (WPA) was killed when a device exploded in his car that was parked near the Camp Street Jail.
Following the incident, there was speculation that the event was set up by the then Prime Minister and Leader of the People’s National Congress (PNC), Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. As such, close relatives and associates of the late historian made numerous requests for a Commission of Inquiry into his death.
Decades after the event, On June 13, 2013, the Government of Guyana (GoG), under the Donald Ramotar Administration, announced that it had approved the establishment of the COI following a request from the Rodney Family.
Public notices on the matter outlined that the purpose of the COI is to receive testimony and evidence from interested parties to determine the circumstances immediately prior, at the time, and subsequent to the incident, in order to determine who or what was the cause of the explosion which resulted in the death of Dr. Rodney.
Among other things, the COI was set up to determine whether the cause of the explosion in which Dr. Rodney died, was an act of terrorism.
Ramotar had said that such an inquiry was necessary to allow Guyana to start the healing process after more than 30 years of uncertainty concerning Rodney’s death, and to avail his family closure.
The inquiry commenced April 2014, and was supposed to wrap up at the end of the year. The government, however, announced that it was extending the life of the Commission, indefinitely.
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