Former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran is greatly concerned that after the obvious abuse of the country’s financial laws and the brazen misuse of taxpayers’ dollars, government is not taking serious action against NICIL’s former CEO, Winston Brassington and Former Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh.
He said that it is troubling for Guyana’s sake that these persons who were in control of the country’s purse strings have not been held accountable, and in fact are not even present to answer important questions about any of their decisions.
Goolsarran said that Government must step up to the plate and demonstrate to a now vigilant nation that it is serious about impeaching those who violate the nation’s laws and misuse public resources.
Many have questioned whether certain ministers within the Government are genuinely interested in bringing particularly Brassington before the courts, for his actions against the nation.
Anti-corruption advocates have also questioned whether the current Minister of Finance Winston Jordan has truly displayed an interest in seeing Brassington face the full extent of the law.
While Goolsarran shares these sentiments, he said that he would not put all the blame on the Finance Minister, even though he would have an influential voice at the level of Cabinet.
BRASSINGTON DESECRATED VARIOUS LAWS
The Chartered Accountant also reminded of his forensic audit report on NICIL which details how Brassington desecrated various laws and misused NICIL for the private gains of the former Cabinet.
In that report, Goolsarran made the recommendation for a transactional audit to be done on the entity. He was however, taken aback by the decision of Cabinet to hand Phase II of the NICIL forensic audit to the Audit Office.
In this regard, the forensic auditor said, “It was the same office that gave a ‘clean bill of health’ on the accounts of NICIL during the period 2002-2012 when all the discoveries were made. And, please don’t forget the mother of all conflicts of interest that existed then between the Audit Office and the Ministry of Finance where the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh was the Chairman of NICIL while his spouse at the Audit Office had overall responsibility for the audit of the accounts of NICIL.”
Goolsarran continued, “And also, please do not forget the statement by the former Minister that the audits of NICIL’s ‘subsidiaries’ must be contracted out to Chartered Accountants in public practice, but the audit of NICIL must remain with the Audit Office.”
Goolsarran said that the aforementioned is just the tip of the iceberg of corruption that continues to remain anchored in the entity’s soul.
The former AG said that Cabinet’s decision, disappointing and troubling as it may be, leaves one to wonder just how interested this Government is in returning Guyana to a state of transparency.
GROSS CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE VIOLATIONS
Turning his attention to Dr. Singh’s transgressions, Goolsarran recounted that the former Minister of Finance committed gross constitutional and legislative violations when he authorized $4.554 billion to be issued from the Consolidated Fund without parliamentary approval.
The Chartered Accountant emphasised that Dr. Singh violated the nation’s budget laws and related constitutional requirements.
“He has also violated the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act which prohibits the gifting of State lands. In this regard, one would recall that the former Minister transferred State lands to NICIL by way of a deed of gift. NICIL in turn sold the lands to third parties. Ashni Singh also violated the Public Corporations Act by approving the transfer of State lands from NICIL to third parties,” Goolsarran pointed out.
With this in mind, the Chartered Accountant said that Government must uphold its election promise to ensure that those who abused their offices would face the courts.
Goolsarran said that it is over 15 months since the administration is in office, and notwithstanding the efforts of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), “it is time for the government to not talk, but demonstrate a serious commitment to taking the appropriate disciplinary actions against all those who have been involved in the violation of our constitutional, legislative and regulatory frameworks relating to the use of public resources”.
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