The signing bonus scandal in which the government has found itself trapped, signals three worrying things; that: the APNU+AFC Party is unrepentant, shameless and has mastered the art of deception, according to Opposition Member, Juan Edghill.
In a recent interview with Kaieteur News, Edghill said that the matter has cemented the fact that the Government cannot be trusted with the nation’s resources.
Edghill said, “This is not a singular matter but a pattern that we have seen from this Government. On Thursday in the National Assembly, I said this is how the people get information from the Government; there has to be an exposure, then there is denial. This is followed up by empirical evidence and then the Government gets into damage control mode.”
The politician continued, “ David Granger as President and his Cabinet solicited, received and stashed monies from ExxonMobil. It was never brought to book, placed into the Consolidated Fund or in any Fund that requires parliamentary permission to expend by way of an Appropriation Act.”
The Opposition Member added, “It meant that they, at all material times, intended to utilize that money without the notice, approval or knowledge of the people of Guyana. Monies that are public, when placed into an account, be it statutory body or the Consolidated Fund, the level of accountability is at the National Assembly.”
Edghill criticized the fact that the Government has chosen to create a special account to hold the US$18M bonus as opposed to placing it into the Consolidated Fund. He insists that this can only be described as an act of executive lawlessness.
The Opposition Member also noted that Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, seems unwilling to practise any level of accountability.
Edghill said that the Government must make public, evidence of the transfer of the moneys from ExxonMobil into the bank account.
He said, “Government has been caught with their hands in the cookie jar…This is not something they can be forgiven, or have it called a misunderstanding of financial laws or newness to government. People have lost confidence in this administration. It is deception to the core and every member of government must be held accountable for this…”
But Finance Minister, Winston Jordan took some time on Friday during the wrap up of the 2018 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 (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.”
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$20m? 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$20M.”
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