Dec 28, 2016 News
– says new board “conservative”, has nothing to hide
-will urge entity to be more open to media
By Kiana Wilburg
Even though it has been said by Government officials that there have been significant changes at
NICIL, criticisms still remain overwhelming that the entity continues to operate in a clandestine manner. However, Finance Minister Winston Jordan recently discredited such views, stating that it is no longer business as usual at NICIL. He made it clear, too, that the entity has nothing to hide.
Minister Jordan was also reminded of the fact that since the change in board members last year, there has not been a single press conference held by the authority.
The NICIL Board Members include Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, Board Chairman, Dr. Maurice Odle and Head of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), Berkley Wickham.
Jordan told Kaieteur News that he will urge the entity to be more open to the media.
“I am going to urge them to be more open, because there is nothing to hide at NICIL, beyond the fact that they are not as rich as they used to be. But there is nothing to hide. Their transactions are fairly transparent and open. I think they have been able to get a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).”
The Minister continued, “The CEO will be recruited in the New Year and let’s hope in the context of new, they will experience a new level of dynamism at the entity.”
Asked to say if the company has made any transfers to the treasury as of late, Jordan retorted, “There is nothing to transfer; in fact they need lots of money, because remember, they are agents for certain agencies plus they are a holding company, AHI is a holding company for Marriott and NICIL is the holding company for AHI. So trust me, they don’t have anything to transfer.”
The Finance Minister said that in any case “it is business unusual” at NICIL. At the level of dividends, the Finance Minister said that the entity is now only required to hold it in accordance with what was the original intent of the company, and then transfer in full to the Consolidated Fund.
“So there is nothing that NICIL has to hide. What they have is a very conservative board and management who like to stay away from the public and do things quietly. But I will talk to them about holding a press conference early in the new year,” Jordan said.
Since last year, Kaieteur News has tried relentlessly to contact the Chairman, as well as Minister Harmon, on a number of issues relating to the entity. But all efforts proved futile. It continues to be a case the “royal run around.”
Last year in an interview with this newspaper, Chairman Odle bemoaned the fact that under the previous administration, the entity was run with little to no transparency and accountability for investment decisions. He also spoke against the way in which taxpayers were kept in the dark on the happenings of the state-owned company.
One year later, under Odle’s directive, NICIL is being accused of keeping the nation “in the dark” as it relates to how reforms have been made by the company under the new administration and the status regarding the millions of dollars in debt it is owed by various agencies.
Additionally, meaningful reforms recommended for NICIL in a forensic audit report are yet to be implemented. In this regard, Odle had said that the Board is awaiting the completion of two other audits as instructed by Cabinet. The status of these audits is yet to be made public.
In the forensic audit report which was prepared by Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran, it was recommended that the entity be closed down and a small department opened under the Ministry of Finance, if Government deems it necessary.
It was explained that the reason for such a recommendation was premised on the fact that NICIL was initially established for the purpose of privatization of state assets. That was done in two phases in the 1990s.
Since that phase ended years ago, the report recommends that there is no need for NICIL to remain a company. It says that it should be liquidated and Government should make moves to establish a department to manage the assets being held by the company.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan said, however, that he is not inclined to go this route, and has since made it clear that the entity is necessary.
Meanwhile, Goolsarran had told this newspaper that he is deeply disappointed that recommendations to shut down NICIL have not been implemented. He reminded that it was this very administration which had at one time, called for the closure of NICIL when it sat on the opposition benches.
The former Auditor General stated that this new Government had given the commitment that it would not use NICIL in an abusive manner.
“However, what Government must see is the bigger picture. What will happen when there is another government in place? Too late shall be the cry then. It is a grave disappointment and NICIL should without question be brought to a halt. It practically allows too many avenues for eerie forms of corruption which the nation has witnessed under the previous administration,” Goolsarran had said
The anti-corruption activist had also said that the forensic audit which he prepared provides irrefutable grounds which show how financial lawlessness took place at unimaginable scales at the entity.
In this regard, Goolsarran expressed that he is in agreement with other financial minds who believe that the NICIL Board seems uninterested in going after those persons who committed grave acts within the state-owned entity.
Goolsarran recalled that it was since last year December that a Cabinet decision was made for NICIL’s former CEO, Winston Brassington and his Deputy, Marcia Nadir-Sharma to be sent on leave pending the outcome of investigations.
The former Auditor General said it is troubling that months later, not a word has been uttered by NICIL to the nation regarding the status of these investigations. He stressed that NICIL needs to remove itself from the veil of secrecy.
Goolsarran nevertheless maintained that “NICIL has been at the centre of some of the worst corrupt acts of our time and it must be closed down.”
Jan 19, 2021Kaieteur News – The Guyana Golf Association (GGA) in collaboration with the Nexgen Golf Academy has acquired land to establish the first of their planned five uniquely designed golf facilities...
Jan 19, 2021
Jan 19, 2021
Jan 19, 2021
Jan 18, 2021
Jan 18, 2021
Kaieteur News – The material on which to build one’s analyses of the year 2020 is literally mountainous. There is... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]