Sep 25, 2020 News
– probe to be launched—Minister Dharamlall
According to the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, some $250M from the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme remains unaccounted for.
These are other details were shared by the Minister during budgetary considerations to the Committee of Supply on Wednesday.
“Under the previous SLED, over $250M for last year, we can find is no records. As a matter of fact, our investigations have so far revealed that the paperwork for the $250M last year, a lot of it was deposited at Haags Bosch,” the Minister said to the Committee.
Dharamlall went on to indicate to the body that an investigation will be launched to probe all of the spending conducted by the programme under the APNU+AFC, as he added that “many on the opposition’s side are going to face prosecution.”
He even reminded the Committee that executives of the former government benefited from the initiative, including the former Director of Sports and current Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones.
Jones was arrested in late August by police officers under a simple larceny accusations for a quantity of barber chairs, among other items, reportedly belonging to the State. He was later released on $100,000 bail.
The search was conducted out in relation to an audit carried out at the former Ministry of Social Protection, which showed that they had approved the payout of almost $5 million under the Region Four administration for the procurement of equipment for a barbershop under the SLED programme.
A review of a grant received by Jones revealed that the full amount was spent by December 31, 2019.
However, over $1M in items were in fact not delivered and the project was not executed. The remaining items were stored at Jones’ home.
Then Minister Anma Ally had said that the previous administration had expended almost $250M to increase employment opportunities at the community level through the project. What remains unclear at this point is what criteria were required for grants to be issued via the project and under what arrangement Jones qualified as a recipient.
Displeased with the government, Jones had filed a lawsuit against the State for unlawfully searching his home and seizing barber chairs, air-conditioning units and other equipment.
Upon becoming aware of Jones’ lawsuit, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall had asked the High Court to dismiss the case, as he labeled it as “frivolous” and “vexatious”.
The SLED programme was set up in 2015 after the coalition took office.
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