In recent days, there have been a number of disclosures that public official not only had companies involved in the oil business but in other sectors as well.
The disclosures have raised questions about whether public officials can be involved in private business.
According to officials last week, the Public Service Rules 2004 Edition as well as the Integrity Commission (Amendment of Code of Conduct) Order 2017 both addresses how public servants and public officials could be involved.
One thing is very clear… public servants have to seek permission from their Permanent Secretaries or the Public Service Ministry.
In the case of officials who are executives of, or part of state companies or entities, the contracts of the executives would have spelt out if and how they can be involved in private business.
In the case of state boards, officials, including chairpersons must seek permission from the board.
According to Section F10 of the Public Service Rules, “Other Employment Activities During and Outside of Official Working Hours, though public servants are expected to devote full attention and time to their work during official working hours, they may, with the permission of the Permanent Secretary and Public Service Ministry, be engaged in other employment activities of a par
t-time nature, whether with or without remuneration.
“Public servants shall not undertake paid employment outside of official working hours unless prior approval is obtained from the Permanent Secretary, Public Service Ministry. Such request will not be favourably considered if such employment is likely to impair the efficiency and usefulness of the Public Servant in his/her job or conflict with the interests of the Government.”
The Public Service Rules also explored how public servants can hold shares.
“No public servant may hold shares in his/her own name or have any interests in any private company or partnership in Guyana, nor, except in his/her official capacity as a public servant, participate in the management of any private or public company in Guyana without the express permission of the Permanent Secretary, Public Service Ministry. Permission, however, need not be obtained to hold shares in any public company or in registered cooperative society in Guyana.”
The Integrity Commission (Amendment of Code of Conduct) Order 2017 also has some level of directions.
“A person in public life shall be accountable to the public for his or her decisions and actions and shall submit himself to scrutiny and criticism.”
It also said that: “A person in public life and members of his or her family shall, upon his or her assumption of office, declare their private interests relating to the duties of the public official, and assets as required by the Integrity Commission Act and any other law.”
In recent times there were a number of instances where names of public officials surfaced in a number of companies.
The latest one hitting the news is an application for a medium scale mining permit for over 600 acres of land in the Potaro, Region Eight.
The applicants are Dr. Richard Van West Charles, Lear Goring and Roxroy Parris under a company registered as Guyana Development Associates.
Van West Charles is the chief of the state-owned Guyana Water Inc. He also came into the news a few years ago after it became known he was granted a fuel import licence, around the time he was appointed in 2015.
Goring is said to be Van West Charles’s right-hand man and part of the fuel import company.
The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), in a notice in the Official Gazette dated June 29, signaled its intention to grant a Prospecting Permit (Medium Scale).
“Notice is hereby given in accordance with Section 55 of the Mining Act 1989 of the intention to grant to Richard Van West Charles, Lear Goring and Roxroy Parris TINO Guyana Development Associates whose address is Lot 301 Meadowbrook Gardens, Georgetown, Guyana a Prospecting Permit (Medium Scale) to explore for Gold and Diamonds…”
According to the Official Gazette, the area is located in the Potaro Mining District Number and involves a total of 601 acres.
Persons have 21 days to object.
Van West Charles himself has been the beneficiary of a fuel import licence granted in 2015.
His company, Atlantic Fuel, is reportedly operating a gas station in Bartica, Region Seven.
Over the last weekend, also, there were disclosures that Eric Phillips, a senior investigator of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) and Chairman of the Guyana Power and Light Inc., Rawle Lucas, are directors in a company called ABR (African Business Round Table) Oil and Gas Supplies and Logistics Service Inc.
Phillips himself is part of another company which has applied for an offshore oil block back in 2015.
There are indications now that there are other public officials who after the Coalition Government entered office in 2015, registered new companies and therefore had interests.
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