-says Attorney General clumsily trying to blame him
Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall is contending that his 2014 budgetary proposal did not contain any
entry for the purchase of a vehicle and he has called on his successor, Basil Williams, to account for the $16M luxury SUV.
He issued this call during a press conference at Freedom House yesterday, before the examination of the budget estimates were scheduled to begin. As then Minister of Legal Affairs, Nandlall explained he had submitted to the Minister of Finance the budgetary proposals in November 2014. He made it clear that his proposal did not include the purchase of a vehicle for his use.
“The Ministry had purchased a vehicle for the use of the Attorney General in the year 2013 so obviously I did not request another vehicle in the year 2014,” he said. “However, we had a change of government and they presented their budget for 2015 in the month of August.”
He noted that when he examined the budgetary proposals for Ministry of Legal Affairs at that time, he observed that they had put in for a vehicle. He recounted that he had enquired about the use for the vehicle in the Committee of Supply; the response was that it was for Williams’ use.
“In fact he went on to say that it was for his use and the price quoted was for $16.5M. He went on to say that the vehicle which he is currently using, that is the vehicle that I was using, causes him some discomfort on his shoulder.”
He noted that the budget was passed and the sums appropriated for purchasing the vehicle. According to Nandlall, however, a different tune was sung this year in the Committee of Supply.
“This year during the Committee of Supply, I enquired from the Minister of Legal Affairs what the status of the vehicle approved in last year’s budget was, because I am not seeing him driving any new vehicle. And then he launched into a tirade about a fraud being perpetuated. He attempted in a very clumsy fashion to ascribe fault elsewhere.”
“Now, if that is so he is the Minister!” Nandlall stressed. “It was his budget and (a) vehicle (was) ordered under his watch. If the wrong vehicle came, that is the matter for him and his staff. So I am completely flummoxed at the outpourings of the Attorney General in Parliament on this issue.”
“When one examines his budget for this year, it indicates in the capital accounts that he has actually purchased the vehicle for $16.5M. That is what his budget says. The vehicle was paid for and it forms the asset base of the Ministry of Legal Affairs. That is what he presented as part of the 2016 budget.”
The former Attorney General acknowledged the explanations offered by Williams- that he did not have the vehicle, that he paid half the money as an advance and that it was not delivered but the advance was returned to the Ministry of Finance.
“I do not know whether that is so,” Nandlall reiterated. “I am going with what was presented as the 2016 budget. The 2016 budget shows that the Attorney General’s Chambers purchased a vehicle for $16.5M for 2015 and the vehicle has not yet reached the Attorney General. He has to answer, not the other way around.”
On Tuesday Nandlall questioned the whereabouts of the sum allocated for the purchase of a vehicle for the Ministry of Legal Affairs. In response, Williams had claimed that he and his staff discovered that the imported luxury SUV vehicle was a used one and not as specified.
He stated that this discovery prompted the Ministry to take action to recover the monies that had already been paid the importer, some $8M and in the process saved Guyana millions. Nandlall however had maintained his innocence.
Minister Williams had told the National Assembly that his actions “averted a major fraud” as the transaction was aimed at robbing the country.
However, the Opposition had requested that the details of the transaction be provided to the Assembly. Williams responded that the matter would be addressed by the Auditor General, but steps are being taken to recover the sum.
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