Minister Edghill says…
Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Juan Edghill, has debunked claims by opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Amanza Walton-Desir, in which she stated that she was fired from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) because of her political interests.
However, yesterday Minister Edghill made it clear that it was Walton-Desir’s “non-performance” that led to the agency relieving her of her duties.
According to the Minister, Walton-Desir, an attorney-at-law who served as General Counsel to the GCAA and a recently sworn-in Member of Parliament (MP) for the A Partnership For National Unity-Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), was absent from duties for a period of five months-commencing at March 2 to July 31 of this year.
“To be off the job for months without leave being approved in itself is voluntary termination,” Edghill pointed out in a statement.
Further rubbishing the attorney’s claims, during this week’s budget debate in the National Assembly, that her termination was as a result of a political witch-hunt, Minister Edghill said the GCAA was well within its legal right to end her tenure.
“In keeping with the conditions of the contract where either party may terminate, the Director-General (DG) of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority informed Miss Desir that her contract has come to an end and her services are no longer required. This is not a matter of politics. This is a matter of non-performance. This is about someone who has been openly defiant to the Director-General and senior management of the GCAA,” the Minister explained.
Further in the justification in the termination of the attorney, Edghill presented a document which recorded the chronological human resource (HR) events between Walton-Desir and the GCAA. This document details 25 entries between the two aforesaid parties between the years 2013-2020.
With sharing this report, Edghill was keen to point out that: “There were always issues about her absence from work; tardiness as it relates to her
functions, not providing reports, going on oversees travels and not providing any report on her return from those travels.”
He also noted that Walton-Desir’s exchanges with the GCAA often dealt with disagreements over her salary and clauses of contracts.
“Her employment at this agency was about money,” the minister said. “The letters in her file, exchange of letters has always been about emoluments, terms and conditions of engagement, disagreement about whether she should be paid midpoint or maximum of the scale.”
This attorney-at-law was paid a gross salary of $1.223M per month and a $20,000 travel allowance. Though employed as a lawyer, she collected a $50,000 technical allowance, followed by an annual one-month’s salary leave passage allowance, and a 22.5% gratuity every six months.
Benefits did not stop there as the attorney received a $172,538 allowance as Project Manager of the Project Executing Unit of the National Aviation Master Plan for Guyana.
“GCAA is still yet to produce work to show and to substantiate the benefits it garnered from this excessive remuneration package,” Minister Edghill said, while noting that her contract increased from three years to five years, which was beyond the time the GCAA could approve without reason or a board decision.
Additionally, Walton-Desir appeared to have secured secondment to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) through the circumvention of the process that would facilitate such a decision.
Letters were sent from the lawyer to former President David Granger for his intervention to ensure her secondment.
However, that secondment was refused by means of a unanimous decision by the GCAA on March 19, 2019.
Walton-Desir yesterday, threatened to take legal actions against Minister Edghill for him disclosing details of her contract between the GCAA.
The APNU+AFC wrote in a statement that “Edghill acted way beyond the parameters of acceptable conduct, indulged in misconduct in public office and will suffer the legal consequences for his abhorrent and nauseating actions in maligning Ms. Walton-Desir.”
However, Edghill posited that he was well within his rights to share those contractual details since the attorney functioned as an officer of public authority, thereby being paid by public funds, and the terms and conditions of her contract as well as the quality of her performance are all matters to which the public is entitled.
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