Oct 04, 2015 News
As the fallout of the forensic audit into the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) continues, a senior GRDB official said to have been co-operating with the auditors, has been dismissed on the orders of GRDB General Manager Nizam Hassan.
Junior Finance Minister Jaipaul Sharma, who bears oversight for the audits, is up in arms as the individual had already aided in uncovering questionable activities at GRDB.
Last week forensic auditors combing through GRDB uncovered that $100M was “borrowed” from the agency by Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA) General Secretary Dharamkumar Seeraj, reportedly to pay farmers who had supplied paddy but were left being owed for extended periods.
The decision to fire the individual is reported to have been taken on Wednesday by Hassan, who has been functioning as General Manager since July. He replaced Jagnarine Singh, who resigned from GRDB ahead of the impending audit into the agency.
When contacted yesterday, Sharma revealed that the man’s dismissal was in fact not the first instance that a co-operating employee was dismissed from GRDB. The Minister related that when he was first informed of the dismissal, his immediate concern was to ascertain if the official was qualified.
However, Sharma said that the official was indeed qualified, being the holder of a Master’s Degree.
“I see it as preventing me from carrying out my audit,” Sharma noted, adding that he will take it up with Hassan in order to secure a resolution.
In a letter to Hassan seen by Kaieteur News, the official can be seen requesting an explanation for the GM’s decision to dismiss him. The official’s letter went on to note that no reason for firing him was provided in the termination letter.
The missive was reportedly written on Thursday, one day after the dismissal. In it was stated that while the GM “claimed it was a Board decision, the Board would not meet until Friday, October 2, 2015.”
According to the 1994 GRDB amended Act, Part 3, Section 17 (3), “the Board may employ a secretary and such other officers and employees as the Board may require for the purposes of carrying out its functions under this act, and the power to remove and to exercise disciplinary control over any person so employed shall be vested in the Board.”
Citing the GRDB Act, Co-Chairman of the Rice Producers Association-Action Committee (RPA-AC) and Board Director Jinnah Rahman made it clear that there was no reason to dismiss the employee, save in an effort to silence the staff of GRDB and as an act of vindictiveness.
He also noted that the dismissal could not have come about following a Board meeting as the only meeting scheduled for last week was on Friday. That meeting, Rahman observed, was “arbitrarily” cancelled.
“The Board of Directors never discussed the man’s matter,” Rahman stated.
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