Guyana just celebrated 50 years of independence. One would have expected that as a country, we would have no questions on the following being present:
A professional police force, including SOCU, separate and distinct from Government
A free and independent media, who are held responsible when they cross the line
A Government that will ensure that when statements are made of government institutions, that these represent fact and are presented fairly
An audit office that is allowed to act independently
Auditors (including forensic auditors) who are held to the highest level of professionalism and independence.
The current case in point is KN headlines on the minutes of NICIL’s AGM’s and the so-called report of the forensic auditor Anand Goolsarran.
It seems that every other day, KN has been serialising parts of the report, without any regard to balance, fairness, or accuracy.
It saddens me and it should sadden every Guyanese that KN is allowed to print with impunity, completely biased and inaccurate reports that are only intended to attack and denigrate the integrity of certain persons. This is not journalism.
What is clear is that KN is bent on attacking all former officials of the PPP/C while studiously shying away from attacking what is not transparent or proper under the new Government.
Instead, KN is tasked with being a propaganda tool of the current administration.
Case in point: Minutes of NICIL’s AGM. Simply put, the AGM’s of NICIL occurred. Whether the minutes are produced a year after or whenever, does not change the fact that NICIL’s AGM’s occurred and in most cases were attended by the Auditor General.
Drafts of minutes on a computer or backup drives are not proof that a meeting did not occur. Minutes are not submitted to the Registrar of Companies. In addition to AGMs, all of the annual reports or audited accounts are approved separately by Government (the shareholder of NICIL) at Cabinet meetings before they are laid in Parliament under the hand of the Minister of Finance. And so it is with NICIL annual reports.
Secondly, the auditor of NICIL is established by law as the Auditor General. The Government as shareholder does not appoint the auditor as shareholder of private companies do. And so the AGMs of NICIL are a mere formality. BUT THESE MEETINGS DID OCCUR.
The standard agenda of any AGM follows the below sequence:
To receive and consider the report of the directors and the audited accounts of the company for the year
To appoint auditors
To fix the remuneration of the auditors.
For NICIL, once the Auditor General completes his audit and the report is ready, it goes to Cabinet under the hand of the Minister of Finance for approval and for said report to be laid in Parliament, as required in law. A Cabinet decision is then issued and this action occurs. In many cases, well before the AGM is held.
In the second case, the Audit Act specifically states that the Auditor General of Guyana shall be the auditor of state owned entities. The shareholders therefore have no say in the matter.
In the third case, the fees are determined by tender or based on standard audit charges of the Audit office, based on time spent on the audit. The shareholders really have no input.
And so KN’s fallacious headlines of jail time and criminal actions against the DCEO of NICIL, who served as the Secretary of NICIL, is nothing but an orchestrated effort to destroy the integrity of someone whose only fault was to dedicate over a decade of her life to working hard for NICIL and the Government.
The timing of these articles are questionable and published only to impugn her character and integrity.
I feel a deep sense of loss when all of the institutions and key persons on the side of right, feel helpless for being targeted as a distraction from the realities.
In private conversations, reasonable persons know the truth. The results are slowly becoming evident—a lack of new investment, a decline in the economy, and soft whispers of the Government consolidating power and immersing itself in all institutions.
Are we all becoming witnesses to our own loss of independence and those liberties of living in a “free” country?