Sep 19, 2020 News
By Shikema Dey
Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Roysdale Forde yesterday blasted the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration for their attacks on the soon to be disbanded State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA).
As the final day of the 2020 Budget Debates got underway at the Arthur Chung Conference Center, Forde who gave his maiden presentation after Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall, deemed the attacks “reprehensible” and cited that it represented the “first salvo” on the independence of public institutions.
“Dark, dark days are ahead, Mr. Speaker,” Forde told the National Assembly.
It was the Attorney General in his presentation who underscored the “parasitic” effect SARA had on the National Treasury. SARA has received close to $600M to fight corruption, including a budget of $260M in 2018 and $285M in 2019.
For its establishment in 2017, it also received another $116M. He highlighted that since being established four years ago, the agency had failed to complete its mandate of recovering State Assets and additionally, he pointed out that the agency is “illegally constituted.”
“It is illegally constituted, with the Director and Deputy Director not been appointed by this Honourable House, as mandated by the SARA Act,” the AG explained, “yet these two officers were allowed to draw salaries at a rate of $1M and $700,000 GYD, respectively per month, with gratuity and benefits for the past four years. These two illegal appointees alone carted off from the Treasury over $100M GYD in emoluments, over this period, excluding other benefits.”
According to Nandlall, all the agency managed to do was file a few cases in respect of plots of land sold by the PPP/C Administration at market value.
SARA also filed proceedings against the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) back in September 2019 with claims that it had acquired a property in Kingston that houses its headquarters for $244M at less than its actual value.
The High Court, however, ruled in favour of the bank, on the grounds that SARA lacked the legal standing for such a matter.
“So, in short,” the AG added “this Unit has accomplished nothing, but has plundered from the Treasury in salaries, rental and operational costs, approximately $1B GYD, over this period.”
For this reason, he said, government would be removing this “humongous burden from the backs of taxpayers’ by shutting down this Unit, shortly.”
His comments did not sit well with Forde who told the National Assembly that the reason why the PPP/C is scrapping SARA is because it is an independent institution.
He said “This nation is fully aware of the principal reason why this Administration wants to get rid of the State Assets Recovery Agency. It is because as an independent institution, the State Assets Recovery Agency instituted proceedings against members of the PPP/C who were considered to have improperly acquired state assets.”
According to Forde, the PPP/C has always been “afraid of strong independent institutions” like SARA and noted that it is their “ideological posture” to suppress strong independent institutions.
Further, he questioned: “Mr. Speaker, which decent Government would want to get rid of an institution such as a State Assets Recovery Agency? To replace it with what Mr. Speaker, to replace an Institutional watchdog in the nature of a pit bull with a watch poodle?”
Oct 19, 2020By Sean Devers Kaieteur News – ‘Government plans to stay connected to Guyanese despite Political loyalties’ these were the words of the Honourable Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport...
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – A noteworthy event occurred on the afternoon of Saturday October 10, that could... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]