During the Alliance for Change (AFC)’s recently concluded biennial conference, the Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin – serving in his capacity of Party Treasurer – said that the AFC is in $43.4 million debt,
due largely to their elections campaign.
Yesterday, during the Party’s Bi-weekly Press Conference, Gaskin was asked about the plans to reduce the debt and the provision of favours to donors.
The Main Parliamentary Opposition – the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) – after the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) won the May 2015 General Elections, had levelled accusations against the Coalition Government of granting favours or compensation to persons or businesses that would have financed their election campaign.
The selective awarding of contracts to financiers was amongst the accusations levelled.
Gaskin replied yesterday: “Whatever we do in Government, is open to public scrutiny and the fairness of how we conduct the Government’s business is there for everyone to see.
The media in particular, knows when contracts are issued. All that information is public information; Government does not operate in secrecy unless there are matters of confidentiality involved. So I think you have your job to do and I am always open to any scrutiny, but I can assure you that is not what we do otherwise, we won’t be in debt.
Newly elected Leader of the Party, Raphael Trotman – who is also the Minister of Natural Resources – also weighed in.
He said that the reduction of debt will be something the party is going to focus on in the coming days. Trotman spoke about the possibility of hosting fundraisers.
“The fact that a political party in power has campaign debts, says something, or speaks to something and I believe that it is not uncommon. We are a young party and with the strength of the delegates and the wider membership, we will get through it. A little debt keeps you sharp…It will contribute to party activism and togetherness,” Trotman said.
Gaskin told delegates and members of the party at the fifth Biennial Congress which was held at the Vreed-en-Hoop Primary School, West Bank Demerara last week Saturday, that for 2016, the party’s accumulated surplus stood at a negative $14.2 million, down from $16.8 million in 2015 and $8.4 million the preceding year.
Gaskin had stated, also, that the party had purchased the building housing its headquarters in Kitty, Georgetown in 2014 for $18 million, contributing to that debt.
He related that the party borrowed $14 million from a local bank and that renovations had to be done to the structure taking its value up to approximately $34M with an outstanding mortgage of $11.3 million.
“Now these figures are taken from the draft of the audited accounts. And what they indicate is a decrease in our net assets. And this is due largely to a huge campaign debt that we would have incurred.”
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