The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has responded to the mounting calls for members of its former administration to be charged. The party is contending that natural justice must prevail and that the party members are “innocent until proven guilty.”
PPP General Secretary, Clement Rohee, made these comments during the party’s weekly press conference at Freedom House, yesterday. It also comes in the wake of the purported financial lawlessness uncovered by various forensic audits into state entities, and the resulting demands that the responsible officials be brought to justice.
Rohee blasted the calls, which he labeled as demands for “kangaroo trials”. He also questioned the source of the calls for members of the PPP administration to be charged. Rohee said that the agitation is coming from known opponents of the PPP and moreover, from the State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU), which he stated had no legal standing.
“In a democracy one can call for anything. We called for electoral reform. So this is fully understandable,” he said. “Everybody is free until found guilty. But what we have is trial by political statements of certain known suspects.”
“Justice must be allowed to take its course and until such time, I think it makes no sense for individuals who have a vendetta to be insisting in their agenda.”
According to Rohee, considering the fact the PPP controls seven of the ten regions and had 32 seats in parliament, the party was “part and parcel of Guyana’s DNA.”
Rohee went so far as to label the allegations against the party as “wild.” According to the former Home Affairs Minister, in light of how the party is being labeled, talks of national unity become moot. He called for more consideration of the political atmosphere, in order for it to not become more toxic.
“So all the talk about national unity and the party must come together, makes no sense (when) you call for that on one hand and on the other you are encouraging this kind of debate and peddling this kind of line. So let’s wait and see.”
Rohee’s stance on the calls for charges comes in the wake of the glaring forensic audit report into the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) and consequently, Marriott hotel, conducted by chartered accountant Anand Goolsarran. In the report, charges had been recommended for the former PPP administration.
During the audit, Goolsarran found several alarming discrepancies and used these as his basis for suggesting that the Granger administration may wish to invoke charges for the violations of Guyana’s laws.
In his report, he said that following the withdrawal of the private developer around 2008/early 2009, the then PPP Government decided to proceed with the construction of the Marriott Hotel without the involvement of the National Assembly.
The Chartered Accountant said that this was unfortunate, considering that a significant amount of State resources would have been utilized in the construction of the facility, which would have required Parliamentary approval, in accordance with Article 217 of the Constitution.
He said that the evidence found during his audit clearly suggests that the former Cabinet took the decision to proceed with the project without the benefit of a feasibility study to determine the project’s economic and long-term viability.
The Chartered Accountant had noted that state revenues from the proceeds of dividends from public corporations and the sale of public assets were diverted from the Treasury and used mainly to fund the construction of the Marriott Hotel, but without Parliamentary approval. He had noted that this was a clear violation of Articles 216 and 217 respectively of the Constitution, as well as the corresponding sections of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA).
He had said that for those reasons and more, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Government, may contemplate invoking the requirements of Sections 49, 76 and 85 of the FMA Act.
Goolsarran had argued that “Cabinet, collectively and individually, does not enjoy immunity as it relates to the application of the above sections, and for defying the wishes of the National Assembly as contained in resolution of December 17, 2012 for the government to cease funding the project without Parliamentary approval.”
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