Over the weekend, social media was abuzz when financial records detailing the spending of the General Manager (GM) of Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL), Sherod Duncan, made its way into the public domain.
Yesterday, within hours, the entity’s Finance Comptroller, Moshamie Ramotar, was sacked and then re-instated. She was believed to have leaked the information.
GNNL is the state-owned publisher of the Guyana Chronicle and the Sunday Chronicle. It is funded with taxpayers’ dollars.
Duncan is alleged to have, within his probation period as General Manager, spent $5M, in just less than three months on the job. He reportedly spent the monies, in the absence of the board, on furniture, a laptop and repairs to vehicles, among other things.
Following the leakage of the spending, Duncan, as GM, yesterday issued Ramotar with a termination letter. The letter said that the services of the Finance Comptroller were being ended with immediate effect.
“This is in keeping with the Personnel Policy and Procedures Manual 1991 and the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act 1997.”
The woman was told that Chronicle’s Accounts Department would prepare the outstanding benefits within seven days.
The news of the sacking saw an emergency meeting convened with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
Present at the meeting were Chairperson of Chronicle, Geeta Chandan-Edmond; Director of Public Information, Imran Khan; Editor-in-Chief, Nigel Williams and Duncan.
According to a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, the termination was rescinded by Nagamootoo.
At the emergency meeting, Nagamootoo was briefed by both the Chairperson and General Manager, and presented with relevant documentation.
The Chairperson and the GM agreed that the letter of termination issued to the Finance Comptroller would be immediately rescinded, and that the Board should determine the appropriate course of action that could follow.
The Prime Minister further instructed that a full investigation be conducted by the board on both matters – the leakage of information and the termination of the Finance Comptroller.
A date for the completion of the investigation is to be determined.
Meanwhile, Ramotar has since sought legal support and she is being represented by Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin.
Datadin said that in his client’s termination letter “no reason was given for her dismissal”, neither was she given a hearing. “We do not know what it is she was sent home over and we are utterly astonished by the bizarre behaviour of someone in that position,” said Ramotar’s lawyer.
When questioned whether his client’s dismissal was linked to the leaked financial records of the General Manager, the lawyer reasoned that in the past, his client would have recognized “several breaches to the financial and procurement rules” by the General Manager’s office.
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