When notions of Government receiving a US$20m signing bonus from ExxonMobil were floated in the air several weeks ago, members of the coalition administration dismissed it as a preposterous concoction of the highest order; a figment of someone’s imagination.
Evidence has now come to the fore that there is more than a grain of truth to these claims which were made by Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram.
In fact, a letter addressed to Central Bank Governor, Dr. Gobind Ganga on September 20, 2016, requests for the opening of a foreign currency account to receive a signing bonus from ExxonMobil.
Finance Secretary, Dr. Hector Butts made it clear that the Bank of Guyana should not treat the money as part of its reserves.
Kaieteur News has also been reliably informed that while the government has not received a bonus of US$20M, it has collected one to the tune of US$18M.
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan took some time yesterday during the wrap up of the budget debates to confront the revelation that the government is indeed in receipt of a signing bonus.
Jordan said, “Signing bonus seems to be a big issue. I don’t know why they calling it a leak. If we didn’t want a document in the open we would have pressed it under secret and made certain, only certain people saw it. But it was open. The letter that was put in today’s (yesterday’s) paper was there since last year…”
The economist added, “Ask yourselves why it suddenly appeared in the papers today (yesterday). We don’t care. If whoever leaked it felt that that is the approach to how government business is done, well so be it. It is out there.”
DID JORDAN LIE?
The Finance Minister also sought to address concerns that he lied to the press when he was first confronted about the signing bonus rumour.
In an interview with Kaieteur News, Jordan said the claim that the Government received US$20M is ‘a figment of the imagination’ and that there is ‘no agreement for any bonus.’ Further, he noted that the Government did not request such a bonus.
Speaking to members of the House yesterday, Jordan said that he maintains what he said to the press.
“They said Jordan lied to the press. I lied to anybody? There were two questions asked of me on this signing bonus and they were ill-directed questions. They gave me the opportunity to say nothing and so that is what I did. I said nothing. One person put the Ram accusation to me.”
He continued, “I said US$20 million? I don’t know anything about that, but I will go and find out. Did they ever get back to me? No…I am not under any obligation to give anyone any information they didn’t ask for. If you ask me a direct question I will answer you directly. And up to today, there is no signing bonus of US$20Million.”
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