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Dec 13, 2015 News
Government should prepare a policy paper to guide members of the various State Boards about their
entitlements. This is in light of the controversy over the expenses, some $4M in food bills, incurred by Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Chairman Clinton Williams over a matter of months.
This is according to former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, who also noted that once implemented, any violation of that policy should then be condignly dealt with. Goolsarran also highlighted several inconsistencies in the explanation given by GGMC for their chairman’s proclivity towards expensive dining.
He observed that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) board could not have approved the expense account for Chairman Clinton Williams; as such approval is subject to the discretion of the appropriate Minister.
The GGMC Act of 1979 reads, “The Commission shall pay to each of its members (other than the Minister or the Commissioner) in respect of his office such remuneration and allowances, if any, as the Minister may determine.”
The Act goes on to note that remuneration and allowances are applicable “to the Chairman (if he is not the Minister) and the Deputy Chairman, in respect of his office such remuneration and allowances, if any, (in addition to any remuneration and allowances to which he may be entitled in respect of his office as a member) as may be so determined.”
Goolsarran said that GGMC’s defense of Williams had been that the board had approved the expense accounts
of the chairman. He noted that this is inconsistent with the GGMC Act’s provision about the subject Minister, at the time Robert Persaud.
“The question is; did the Minister approve of the emoluments and any allowances of members of the Board? If so, what are the amounts involved (approved)?” Goolsarran asked. “If there was no ministerial approval, then the Board would have acted in breach of the GGMC Act. Goolsarran noted that other sister agencies, such as the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) pay the Chairman and board members per board meeting. Goolsarran observed that there are no allowances or expenses accounts.
“If a member spends beyond the allowance granted, he or she has to meet the difference from his own personal resources. Again, there are no expense accounts involved.”
Kaieteur News has interviewed the chairmen of several state entities, including the chairmen of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB). All have pointed out that meeting with potential investors is not a regular function they perform.
“It is not normal for Board members to regularly interface with an organization’s clients, actual and potential,” Goolsarran also noted. “Especially in a social setting, since such interactions can present difficulties when the Board has to make decisions in relation to those clients.”
The financial analyst made it clear that such occurrences are a function of the management of the organization. The Commissioner of the GGMC is Rickford Vieira. Goolsarran also noted that the board has to be a neutral party, so that it can make decisions that are objective and in the best interest of the organization.
“It would be interesting to learn (which) persons they have entertained as well as the justification of the
choice of venue,” Goolsarran said, “bearing in mind that eating houses in Kitty are not normally used to entertain business associates.”
Recently, documents were made public detailing how almost $4M in entertainment expenses was spent over an 18-month period by Williams, since he took up his position at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) last year.
GGMC is already under fire for its management of the country’s mining and other natural resources, excluding forestry.
Reports had pointed fingers at possible wrongdoing, staff shortages and discrimination with miners and lands.
Miners themselves have been complaining about GGMC’s monitoring of the mining camps.
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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