Friday, June 6, 2008

PNCR calls on govt to place Sanata deal before Parliament

PNCR calls on govt to place Sanata deal before Parliament
Stabroek News news item. Friday June 6, 2008

PNCR Chairman Winston Murray is calling on the government, as a matter of policy and necessity, to immediately place before the National Assembly the agreement between the administration and Queens Atlantic Investment Inc. regarding the Sanata Textile deal.
In this way the various questions being raised about the matter can be laid to rest, Murray said, according to a press statement yesterday by the PNCR at its Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia.

The party said that it has noted the transfer of almost 300,000 square feet of the state-owned Sanata Textile Mill at Ruimveldt to the owners of Queens Atlantic Investment Inc., which has generated both controversy and concern.

“Legitimate questions have been asked as to whether the apparently excessive concessions given to Queens Atlantic Investment, along with the lack of transparency and the conflict of interest of some principals, have not tainted this deal,” the PNCR stated.

It noted too that previous privatisation exercises by the PPP administration, such as the Guyana Stores Limited sale, fell well below the required standards of transparency and accountability.

Therefore it is in the interest of the Guyanese people, the PNCR asserted, that a similar fate should not overtake the agreement signed with Queens Atlantic Investment Inc.

The PNCR also raised questions about what it referred to as the Jagdeo government’s continued violation of “Section 17 of the Financial Administration and Audit Act (FAA), by not placing the monies it has received since 1995 from the Guyana Lottery Company into the Consolidated Fund, instead of into the Government Lotteries Fund Bank Account No. 3119.”

This account, the party said, has been used to finance a number of projects controlled by the Office of the President, “for which there has been little or no Parliamentary oversight.”

The PNCR cited this as “yet another example of poor governance, through the lack of accountability and transparency, of the Jagdeo administration.”

The conditions governing the expenditure of public funds have been clearly set out in the Constitution and the FAA, the PNCR noted, adding that all expenditure of public funds must be approved by the National Assembly. However, the PNCR charged, the government has disregarded these provisions and have incurred major expenditure for a number of activities. The party said that the Auditor General has pointed out that for the year 2005, $133M has been allocated to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport for the rehabilitation of the National Cultural Centre; $33.4M to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs for celebration of Amerindian Heritage Month; $45.1M to the Ministry of Housing for the implementation of a development park; $38.2M for the President’s Youth Choice Initiative for rehabilitation of buildings and administrative and security fees; $24.7M to the Ministry of Public Works for the site preparation of the Cricket Stadium at Providence. And government expenditures on various projects and other activities for 2006 and 2007 are said to be equally significant, the PNCR added.

Meanwhile, the PNCR reiterated that the government “must put itself in full compliance with the Constitution and the FAA Act and place all monies from the Guyana Lottery Company into the Consolidated Fund.” And in this regard, the government up to 2006 had received approximately $2.6B dollars in Lotto funds, the PNCR pointed out.

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