Chairman of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Clinton Williams, recently
emphasized that neither he nor the other members of the Board interferes in the daily activities of the Commission. But evidence recently surfaced which proves otherwise.
In fact, Kaieteur News has seen credible documents which show that Williams had given clear instructions for a US$15M loan to be transferred to the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) just months before the General and Regional Elections in May.
This publication has also seen various documents that reveal that the GGMC Commissioner, Rickford Vieira, had refused to be a part of the deal which was being aggressively pursued by Williams.
In fact, the GGMC Chairman had written to Vieira instructing him to prepare the cheque for the payment of the money to CH&PA. He impressed upon the Commissioner for the matter to be handled “expeditiously.”
Speaking to Kaieteur News yesterday afternoon, one of the GGMC Board members said, “Williams indeed pushed for this loan to be processed as quickly as possible in spite of the disapproval of other members on the Board.
“I can say to you for sure that I was not in favour of it and I know that Vieira was against it. He made his concerns on the matter very clear to the other members of the Board too. But Williams had an agenda.”
In late January, GGMC, via a joint statement with the Housing Authority, indicated that a Loan Agreement on the US$15M was signed.
GGMC said that the submission of an investment proposal by the CH&PA stated that the monies will be loaned for a period of one year and used for the development of the housing sector.
The Board of Directors of the Commission, it said, met and deliberated on the proposal submitted. It was noted that the interest rate being offered by CH&PA was five percent which was 3.2 percent higher than what was currently being earned via the commercial banks and other investment options open to the Commission.
The parties involved articulated that the loan is for a period of one year with interest calculated using the reducing balance. In the event CH&PA fails to repay the entire amount by the deadline, the Commission has the right to increase the interest rate to seven percent.
GGMC said that at the level of the Board of Directors, it was agreed that the investment proposal was financially prudent and sound. And as such it was agreed to grant the loan subject to the terms and conditions enshrined in the Loan Agreement and any additional guarantees required by the Commission.
It claimed, also, that the CH&PA project is pivotal to the realization of the Government of Guyana’s strategic target of allocating 30,000 lots under the Adequate and Affordable Housing Programme in order to maintain momentum in the provision of service land in several areas on the East and West Demerara.
The move was one that earned condemnation and harsh criticisms from various sections of the society including the political opposition.
In fact , the then Opposition Leader, David Granger, had said that he felt this approval was not only out of order but outside of the law.
He said that his understanding is that the rules governing the expenditure of GGMC funds are clearly defined and that they are only supposed to be used for activities that can advance the work of the Commission.
Granger had emphasized that it is outrageous that state funds which do not go into the Consolidated Funds could be used improperly for such a speculative matter in the housing sector.
Chairman of the GGMC Board, Clinton Williams, in spite of the concerns raised, insisted that the Commission’s action was within its laws. But his attempts to justify the decision taken by the Commission only served to rouse more criticisms and incite protests.
The matter was eventually taken before the High Court and the Commission was asked by acting Chief Justice Ian Chang to justify the loan agreement. But after failing to do so, Chang quashed the matter and deemed the agreement to be null and void.
After the May 11 elections, more documents surfaced which revealed that CH&PA had wanted restrictions lifted on the money, allowing the entity to use it for other purposes.
An investigation into the loan agreement by the Granger administration eventually showed that while the Housing Authority had signed the agreement for the US$15M it so desperately needed, it had US$40M lying dormant in private accounts.
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