Feb 20, 2021 News
– received over $900M in budgetary allocations in past 7 years
Kaieteur News – Commissioner of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), Haji Roshan Khan, has yet again come to the fore to speak against alleged mismanagement occurring with state funds. Khan is of the firm conviction that an audit is needed to expose key areas where significant value leakage is taking place.
Khan made this statement yesterday while speaking to Kaieteur News via telephone on several pertinent issues, which he had highlighted in a letter published in this publication’s February 15, 2021 edition.
Khan said, “I would like a serious government audit” and if possible, a direct audit from the Auditor General’s Office. In his letter, Khan had said,“…In its current state, I am of the opinion, like most Guyanese, that the ERC has been a total letdown to the Guyanese nation and is not deserving of the funds they receive. In my opinion, they have accomplished very little. I believe what was done was insignificant and extremely limited to what could have been achieved.”
While speaking to Kaieteur News yesterday, he reiterated that there is unjust spending within the Commission. Expounding further, Khan noted that there was the extravagant granting of Christmas bonuses within the ERC. Khan claimed that Commissioners had attempted to grant themselves $200,000 as a Christmas bonus, but settled on $150,000, which still went against the government’s advisory of $25,000 per person in statutory bodies. He said, “I refused to accept it because it is illegal and wrong”.
Another Commissioner also told Kaieteur News in confidence that he too objected to the sum.
A total of $100,000 was also given to all of the ERC’s staff as a Christmas bonus and Khan maintained that while they execute their jobs in a commendable manner, “it is unreasonable” to have that type of money as a Christmas bonus given the government’s mandate.
As it relates to allowances, the Commissioner had claimed that, “Some also wanted a risk allowance to fly on a plane. They wanted risk allowance to go in the jungle.” He said too that some individuals wanted high-quality boots to traverse jungle terrains. These the Commissioner said were provided but barely put to use. According to Khan, ERC Commissioners were also given out-of-town allowances and received a good salary for “part-time work”.
It must be noted that the ERC has received over $900M in budgetary allocations over the past seven years, with an average of approximately $130M being allocated yearly, leaving questions as to how much of that sum was put to use in the interest of the Guyanese people. This publication had also asked Khan why the ERC’s spending is not properly audited and why Budget Estimates show little to no information on what the large yearly allocations cater for, to which he responded that the Chairman, Reverend John Smith, needs to answer.
It must also be noted that Kaieteur News reached out to the Chairman for a response on the issues highlighted by Khan in his February 15 letter on Thursday, but Smith could not respond at the time. He noted however that a press statement would be issued yesterday addressing Khan’s claims. Up until press time, no statement was seen by Kaieteur News from the Chairman.
Additionally, Khan had blasted the Chairman in his letter, stating that in his view, he is an “ornamental appointee” serving on the ERC, which is a white elephant.
The Chairman was also blasted by Khan for giving the general public the perception that the ERC is doing something, referring to the “National Conversation” that was held last December, which was aimed at improving Ethnic Relations in the country.
Kaieteur News understands that the Commission, which was reconstituted on February 22, 2018, is set to expire soon.
Khan has contended that the ERC had the opportunity to prove its relevance in Guyana for the large amounts of money that were given for the sake of goodwill, harmony, and peace but has failed to do so.
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