NICIL’s refusal to hand over its $$$ is criminal – former Auditor General

NICIL’s refusal to hand over its $$$ is criminal – former Auditor General

May 6, 2012 | By KNews |

Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsaran

 “I have no recollection that Parliament has authorised any expenditure from the NICIL accounts neither am I aware that NICIL, as a state-owned company incorporated under the Companies Act of 1991, has the authority to intercept funds that truly belong to the Consolidated Fund and to use such funds for purposes extraneous to the defraying of certain expenses referred to above.” – GGMC, GFC, Lotto also obligated   –  says Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsaran

The pressure is continuing to mount on Government to release details on the billions of dollars it is holding in a special company without any Parliamentary oversight.   

It is estimated that $50B, representing proceeds of the privatization sales of state companies and properties, is in the coffers of National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), a government-owned company.
The refusal by Government to hand over the monies is a violation of the Constitution, says former Auditor General, Anand Goolsaran.

The at-least $50B would represent a quarter of the $192B National Budget that government recently tabled and the opposition parties, already up-in-arms over a number of other issues, have been joining the growing calls to make the monies available for scrutiny and possible use by the taxpayers.

According to Goolsaran, who left Guyana fearing for his safety following threats a few years ago, he is on public records saying that all public revenues should be placed in the Consolidated Fund and that no public expenditure should be incurred without parliamentary approval.

The accountant made the disclosure in a released statement to this newspaper on May 5th.
“This is a fundamental principle relating to public finance since it ensures transparency and proper accountability for public funds. Any lesser arrangement is not considered proper accountability for taxpayers’ funds and can result in all kinds of allegations of impropriety in the use of such funds, notwithstanding the very best of intentions.”

Alarmed
Goolsaran said that he is alarmed to learn that some $50B may be sitting in the NICIL accounts; that the accounts of NICIL have not been audited and reported on since 2004; and of the arguments put forward by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon.  Recently, Dr Singh insisted that NICIL is a company that does not have to fall under Parliamentary oversight.

Dr. Luncheon had also said that he is unaware of any regulations which compel NICIL to hand over its monies to the Consolidated Fund.

The opposition parties have accused Government of deliberately keeping the monies from Parliament so that there could be little perusal on how it is spent.
NICIL has been responsible in a number of questionable transactions including the sale of the Sanata Complex to Queen’s Atlantic, which is owned by Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, who is said to be a close friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, and who reportedly benefitted from a number of lucrative concessions. It was also involved in the highly questionable sale of several parcels of lands, including to current government Ministers.

“As I understand it, the bulk of the funds collected by NICIL relates to proceeds from the sale of state assets. Are these proceeds not public revenues which should find their way as speedily as possible into the Consolidated Fund, as required by Article 216 of the Constitution?”

The Consolidated Fund is where all Government revenues are placed.
Goolsaran offered to audit the books of NICIL going back to when that company was started.

Violation
“ I do not have any information as to how much NICIL has collected over the years and what expenditures were incurred to date and would have been happy to review the audited accounts going back to the date when NICIL was established.

“I am nevertheless of the view that any expenditure by NICIL, other than to defray certain expenses, such as those relating to the sale of the related state assets, would be a violation of Article 217 (3) of the Constitution.”

According to Goolsaran, that article made it clear that “No money shall be withdrawn from any public fund other than the Consolidated Fund unless the issue of those monies has been authorised by or under an Act of Parliament.”
“I have no recollection that Parliament has authorised any expenditure from the NICIL accounts neither am I aware that NICIL, as a state-owned company incorporated under the Companies Act of 1991, has the authority to intercept funds that truly belong to the Consolidated Fund and to use such funds for purposes extraneous to the defraying of certain expenses referred to above.”
Recently, Government said that it was using millions of dollars of NICIL’s funds to finance the startup of a Marriott-branded hotel in Kingston, a project that is still shrouded in mystery as the owners and details of financing are unknown or unclear.

Goolsaran said that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and if there is any inconsistency between any law and the Constitution, the latter prevails, except in situations where the Constitution permits this.

“I am unaware that Parliament has sanctioned the establishment of any fund (extra-budgetary or otherwise) under the operations of NICIL.”
Touching on other state-owned entities retaining revenues that are considered public, the former Auditor General urged for this issue to also be addressed.

“If such entities are collecting monies on behalf of the State, then the monies collected net of related expenses should be paid over promptly to the Consolidated Fund. An example is the Guyana Revenue Authority which pays over gross to the Consolidated Fund its takings for each day but has a separate budget to meet its expenses.”

He cited examples of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Forestry Commission which retain monies.
“However, mechanisms should be put in place for periodic transfers to the Consolidated Fund of the accumulated surpluses or part thereof. After all, they are state-owned entities, and to the extent that they record accumulated losses, there is recourse to the Consolidated Fund to bail them out. It follows therefore that accumulated surpluses should find their way to the Consolidated Fund.”

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: