With hundreds of millions owed to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), the State’s holding company has hired special lawyers to “aggressively” go after its debtors.
Only a few days ago, Finance Minister Winston Jordan, in an interview with another media entity said “there is nothing to hide at NICIL, beyond the fact that they are not as rich as they used to be.”
Currently, there are about 30 agencies that owe the holding company millions of dollars and according to Officer-in-Charge of NICIL, Horace James, they already have several of them before the court.
“We even hired special lawyers who will be chasing down behind those persons who owe us… We are aggressively pursuing those debtors,” he posited at the organisation’s yearend press briefing on Friday.
In fact, James noted there was already a judgment in one such case filed against a Berbice company while adding that NICIL has also embarked on repossessions.
Moreover, the NICIL official outlined that most of the holding company’s monies are tied up in the Marriott Hotel, which is owned by Atlantic Hotel Inc. (AHI). He said NICIL has invested some US$30 million in the five-star hotel but is yet to receive any returns.
Topping the list of NICIL’s debtors are several State agencies including the Public Infrastructure Ministry which has some $174 million outstanding. According to James, these monies were spent on road works leading to the Marriott Hotel in Kingston. These works were done before the opening of the hotel.
Another big buck is owed by the Central Planning and Housing Authority (CP&HA). This agency has some $74 million outstanding for works done at Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara.
The cash-strapped Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) also owes NICIL some $61 million for the rental of a building located at Lot 191 Camp Street, Georgetown.
With regards to the heavily-indebted sugar company, NICIL’s Officer-in-Charge explained that they wrote Finance Minister Winston Jordan indicating those Government agencies that owe the holding company.
“We didn’t take them to court at first, we think it was wise for us to initially go to the Minister of Finance, let him know the situation given him the numbers and the background. He did indicate that he will meet our Board to discuss those matters,” James said.
NICIL is currently operating under the chairmanship of Dr Maurice Odle along with Board members – Minister of State Joseph Harmon, and Head of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), Berkley Wickham.
On this note, Minister Jordan said that holding company will get a new Chief Executive Officer in the New Year.
In the 2015 Auditor General’s Report; Deodat Sharma, the Auditor General, had disclosed that NICIL collected some $2 billion on behalf of Government but only turned over half that amount to the Treasury.
Sharma outlined that NICIL continues to function in a manner where it retains significant bulks of its proceeds. This state of affairs has since been adversely reflected on the national accounts since a shortfall of $1 billion from NICIL represented more than half of what was supposed to be collected by Government as part of its revenues on dividends from non-financial institutions.
According to the 2015 Audit Report, an amount of just over $1 billion was reflected as dividends from non-financial institutions, as received from NICIL for the Guyana Oil Company (Guyoil) for 2015 as an interim payment.
It was found after an examination of the financial statements for Guyoil that in 2015 just over $2 billion was in fact handed over to NICIL which in turn handed over only half of that amount to the Treasury.
However, NICIL’s Officer-in-Charge told reporters at Friday’s yearend press briefing that the holding company has transferred some $2.2 billion to the Consolidated Fund. These are dividends, he said, received from Guyoil – that is $1 billion in 2015 and $1.2 billion at the end of September 2016.