Dear Editor,Let me first indicate that I shall not attempt any of those reckless generalisations about the purpose and intent of the Contingency Fund which have now been popularised by a very misinformed Minister of Finance, Mr Winston Jordan. As he unshackles his comments from the more measured versions the nation was accustomed to under Mr Carl Greenidge (the last PNC Minister of Finance), Jordan continues to put the PNC’s chances of winning the 2020 elections at great risk. His open acts of incompetence continue to actively contribute to the mal-administration of the economy. But on top of such incompetence, we are now seeing public acts of intimidation against anyone who questions his strategically bankrupt public actions. The latest victim is the Office of the Auditor General.If we are to follow his logic, then the innocent taxpayers who are toiling to fill the treasury are at the mercy of the Minister who claims he has sole rights to do what he wants with the people’s money because of a clause in Section 41 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, Act 20 of 2003 (FMA). But what the Minister is not telling the people is that those “sole rights” are not automatically bequeathed to him by some monarchical edicts, unless all of a sudden we have a King in Guyana since May 2015. Those rights have to be earned after following due process.The Office of the Auditor General quite correctly pointed out that the Minister has not followed due process on the expenditure totalling a hefty sum of $604 million and thus he violated the spirit and intent of the law. But only a financial dunce and an impetuous bully will not recognise such violations.That same FMA clearly establishes the criteria for tapping the Contingency Fund and it is as basic as this – the expenses charged to the Contingency Fund must be urgent, unavoidable and unforeseen and only if injury to the public interest is a direct consequence, can we proceed to make those expenses. But all four criteria must be met. On $604 million in expenses, the Minister has failed to meet all four criteria.The Minister has violated the spirit of the law and the Office of the Auditor General is correct to write him up. The Minister’s action in 2015 (which continues in 2016) is nothing but reckless financial abuse. Therefore, this act of bullying the Auditor General is uncalled for and by right, President Granger has to step in.At all times, the Government of Guyana must be seen to be giving all constitutional offices the necessary latitude to do their job. I am calling upon the British diplomats, who have a history of good governance, in particular to pay keen attention to what is going on in Guyana.Whatever was published in the 2015 Auditor General Report was put there after consulting the Accountant General and other technicians in the Finance Ministry. Therefore, this was a collaborative and collective effort, not personal attack on the Minister.Rather the Minister will do very well to focus on his job and save the Guyanese economy from “flat-lining”.We might not have to wait on 2020, since this tragic performance of Jordan has already started to infect the output from the Minister of the Presidency and the Office of President Granger directly. President Granger has to bite the bullet and do the right thing and appoint the best finance brain in his Cabinet to the post – Carl Barrington Greenidge.The resources in the Treasury do not belong to Mama Jordan or Papa Jordan, they belong to the people of Guyana and these acts of continued financial abuse and disrespect for the spirit and intent of the laws that govern financial accountability in the land are indefensible and must be rejected today, tomorrow and in 2020.Sincerely,Jai (Harry) Lal
Clean-up efforts have commenced in an effort to have the newly established town of Bartica, in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) smoothly transition into township status.Four more communities are soon to benefit from the clean-up initiative themed “A Clean Environment”. The town of Bartica was selected to be the first of the new towns to benefit from the initiative which is designed to support the communities as they transition into townships.Persons bagging garbage and debris from the beach front area in BarticaThe Natural Resources Ministry provided the requisite support for the project. The new Mayor of Bartica, Gifford Marshall, conveyed his gratitude for the support from the Natural Resources Ministry.“We communicated with the Ministry of Natural Resources and we are very happy that they are on board to assist us in cleaning up our beach area. This particular area is one of the views you will see as you come into Bartica and it is time that we keep this area free of garbage” Marshall noted.The “A Clean Environment” project was launched on April 15 and aims to pilot initiatives across the country to promote the enhancement of the environment.Dr Latchmin Punalall, the Coordinator of environment awareness and enhancement at the Natural Resources Ministry, was given the responsibility of overseeing the project.He reinforced the Ministry’s commitment to being in support to the people of Bartica as the campaign is being carried out and encouraged all to support the initiative to keep the environment clean.The clean-up of the Bartica beach front is ongoing and will be completed before the declaration of township on May 7. Other areas earmarked to receive support in their efforts to enhance their surroundings include Kwakwani, Mabaruma, Port Kaituma and Lethem.The first of the initiative themed “Best Kept School Competition” was recently tested in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice). The public will be kept informed as the project continues.