Home Letters I am available to make comments to the PAC regarding my tenure...
As the Regional Executive Officer of Region Two, Pomeroon-Supenaam, I was placed in a position where I had to put my trust in other appointed officials. For my success, I became even more dependent on them, because, for the better part of my tour of duty, I operated with a shortage of staff, functioning without a Deputy Regional Executive Officer, much unlike almost all the other regions.
There are certain past situations I cannot recall vividly, but if my signature appears on the document in question, I did what any Regional Executive Officer would do: give my approval on the basis of the assurance of senior regional officials designated to monitor the execution and verify the completion of projects.
Karawab Health Centre is about 30 miles up the Pomeroon River. Strange enough, this is not the first time such a situation has occurred, and the miles away from the Anna Regina office on the coastland, “behind God’s back” in the Pomeroon, seem to be the feeding ground for these “trusted officials”. In the latter case, the discovery was made in the Region, and the money was repaid, but not before I was able to capture the evidence. A copy of the evidence forms part of the information I keep close to me, and it currently “resides” with me overseas.
The ring tone on my telephone is part of the hymnal: “How great Thou Art” – “God is Good, all the time”.
A journalist once asked me in 2018, in the presence of the then REO of Region 8, why I was getting so many problems in the region. I longed to provide an answer, but nothing hitherto precipitated a response like the contents of Guyana Times’ article, taken in its entirety.
I knew from the commencement of my appointment that, because of the voting patterns, I would be targeted. I remembered the story where, upon my arrival in the region, there was no house prepared for me to live, not even an apartment, and after residing for some time in a room in the old Anna Regina State House, word leaked that one of the cooks suggested that they poisoned me. I was urged to report the matter to the Police. I later was told by the then Police Commander, Adonis of Essequibo (G) Division, that the matter went to the DPP “for advice”.
Now, let me get to what is the crux of the matter for me, and why I crave your understanding for stating the above: I am embarrassed beyond measure by the article that appeared in Guyana Times, because it can and may be interpreted that I was in collusion to commit an offence. The whole episode is unfortunate, and very sad; the allegations point to persons I know well.
It does not give me pleasure to appear to “show off”, but I need to make mention at this juncture that I attended university classes in the US, 7½ years in fact, once unknowingly sitting in one of my classes next to the grandchild of a former President of the United States of America, as a 58-year-old man. I also taught at the university level, both in the USA and in Guyana.
My commitment overseas will delay my return to Guyana, and so prevent my appearance at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting to examine the accounts of the 2017 and 2018 budget estimates. I am, however, available to appear virtually to make comments to the PAC regarding my tenure as Regional Executive Officer, Pomeroon-Supenaam Region, for the period under review. This was communicated last week to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development; and the Regional Executive Officer of the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region. My overseas telephone number and/or WhatsApp information have been made available to them.
I have already indicated that, upon my return to Guyana, I would be happy to speak with the appropriate representatives, and to provide them the evidence.
Don’t expect me to go on a mission to expose persons.
I recall that the amount of contracts a contractor received at one sitting was reduced from eleven (11) at one Tender Board sitting in order to allow adequate time to execute the work. This will be revealed by the Region’s Tender Board records. In this way, the Region not only saved from the awards, but also re-invested the money from the savings. Records at the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Regional Development would reveal that the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region saved and re-invested more than six hundred million dollars ($600,000,000.00) in three years towards new projects during my tour of duty in the Region.
Our re-investment of 70 projects in 2017, not originally budgeted for by the Ministry of Finance, may be one of the highest, if not the highest ratio of savings to budgetary allocations ever seen and recorded by a Government budget agency in Guyana. These were executed from money saved through prudent management of contracts.
The Region’s official capital and current savings and investment figures are attached for verification. The Audit Office should take on that research, if not challenge.
And talking about taking too much time to review vouchers! Well, that is why I am now called in to be questioned by the Public Accounts Committee. But I was lucky in December 2018; I intercepted more that 11 million dollars ($11,000,000) in suspected payment vouchers that came to my desk. I sent copies of them off to two of my principals.
I did my job, trying to be effective and efficient to give a good account of my stewardship, but at the same time staying out of trouble. In so doing, I believe I offended persons at various levels – unwittingly. I remember writing President David Arthur Granger and complaining about my work situations, pleading in writing for a transfer.
Actual relief came on January 2, 2019 when I was appointed Ministerial Advisor to the Ministry of Communities. This job allowed me the opportunity to have made a few visits and make relevant enquires of the regions, but more particularly to study their “performance”; or, in Government’s language, the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP). Out of concern, I was moved to write a letter to the then Minister of Communities, and also made public comments, at least at one senior officers’ meeting.
I am calling on the Auditor General of Guyana to conduct an independent forensic audit of the affairs of the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region, not only of the period during which I functioned as Regional Executive Officer, but for a period covering the affairs in the region during the last 10 years.
Former Region 2 REO