National Assets3651 13 Jun, 2012
Mr. Ramjattan: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. The rancour just exhibited here revealed to me that there are certain things that, obviously, the Members of the other side do not want to bring to the fore, as requested by this motion.
Let me say, basically, what this motion is all about. What this motion is all about is to ensure that the Privatisation Unit, the company called the National Investment and Commercial Guyana Limited (NICIL), which is very much topical today, and certain other streams of revenue which streams very many members of our public - reporters and people out there - have been questioning through letters and complaints. All of those they would like to see in black and white in the form of that which we are asking here – in detailed reports to their disposals. It would be in a tradition that we thought that the Government would want to live by to say simply, “If you want the books, here are the books.” But we are going back to a period and we are saying that the origins of NICIL, the origins of this and that...and not delving directly and focussing on what we have to focus on and that is the reports in relation to the sale of our assets. They are all stated in black and white here in the motion. The first BE IT RESOLVED clause:
“Provide the National Assembly with a report, in keeping with the law, on the disposal by sale or otherwise of all state lands...”
Please, if you did sell state lands to whosoever, it would be easily there documented unless the archival records are kept like in some communities that are very corrupt where we cannot find them. But indeed, if you are saying that there is nothing wrong and there is no corruption then you clearly can show us the books. Which piece of 700-acre land you sold to this person, what the price was, if it were tendered out and we can have that. That is all the motion is asking for. What we are seeking here is accountability that you so much spout, including the terms on which the assets were disposed and the criteria used. What is wrong with that? There is nothing wrong with that. And we are also indicating that we want to see between the dates 2000 to 2011 and it is important because of the fact that there are so many suspicions out there hanging in the air that if you do not want to do it, we in the National Assembly here are going to ask you to please provide a report.
What is so bad about Members of Parliament representing their constituency, a constituency which has been asking for this information, not getting it from the “Brassingtons” of the world asking here now the Ministers involved?
The second BE IT RESOLVED clause:
“Make financial provisions for the urgent commissioning of an independent financial audit...”
What we are saying here is that yes there can be what is called a giving of the books, but not with the proper auditing. You are saying that based on your research from NICIL that you have right up to 2010. We are saying that we want an independent financial audit that can be done in relation to all of these matters that we are asking for. There is nothing wrong about that! When there are the answers and the very hostile and antagonistic approach from Members of the Government just like a suspect under question, people get even more suspicious. That is what is happening here. Not only now do we believe that it can be cleared up by the explanations we are seeking, but now we are getting more and more suspicious that there might be cover-ups involved. And we know it might all be very clear if the Government presents a report. The whole thing can be satisfactorily done.
The “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED clause” has that the relevant Minister is to provide, as early as possible, a detailed report of the disposal or the sale of state assets. We did not know anything about ANSA McAL buying some land in Canje. [Mr. Nandlall: That is because it did not buy any!] Or whatever it paid for. We did not know that there was some million hectares of land going to some Indian firm. We had to read that from the Indian Times as published by the Kaieteur News. And we understand that we got a couple million US dollars. You did not come clean. So what makes you feel that when you say you are quoting from a book written by Brassington and NICIL that we are going to believe it? Then you went and sold some other things and we got the reports in the newspaper.
As we have understood, the Privatisation Unit is in some of these transactions. The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Ltd. (GT&T) shared what the arrangements were – US$25 million we understand it was sold for. Has the transaction been completed? All of these things...and if you want to live the Cheddi Jagan tradition as even Dr. Henry Jeffery said in an article, he would have said, “Show them the books!” But you do not want to show us the books. Why are you hiding the books?
We also have what we want here which is another revenue stream. That revenue stream, which I had made mention about in my budget speech, has to do, and it is here, with all the concessions and exemptions granted to each and every contractor. We understand that when a contractor gets some bit of road to make, he gets a whole set of exemptions and concessions for bulldozers and so on. We understand that that also is literally moneys that we could have otherwise gotten into the Treasury had the contractors paid up their duties and whatever other taxes. That is a stream of revenue so we are asking here for us to get all the computations of the waivers. These waivers can come into the billions of dollars and, moreover, we are going to know who gets what because the suspicion also is that there is a cabal or an oligarch, as the word is now going around, or what I called recently at a university debate, the sultanate, the favourites, the nepotism that goes with it. So that is what we want. Please give us the information. When there was a contract given for Amaila Falls Road to a Fip Motilall, what were the exemptions he got? What is wrong with us asking the question and you now cumulatively doing that?
We also want to know a couple of things...
Mr. Benn: Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member is suggesting, in his assertion with respect to the Fip Motilall contract on the Amaila Road, that he does not have the contract and that he is unaware of the concessions which were granted in that contract as in all the other contracts he has been provided with.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister is correct. I think you had asked for that and a number of other contracts to be provided and they were provided.
Mr. Ramjattan: That is true but he never gave the one for feasibilities. [Member: The management contract.] He did not give the management contract and all of that. But whatever it is he gave me, it means then that he can do the complete report and give me. If he wants to say that that is duplication, then fine. But we want also information on the Pradovilles No. 2 and the lands that are being given away for Ministers and Presidents to buy and at what price. We want that. What is wrong with that? Was it given at a value that was really the market value? So when we are asking these questions, they are legitimate and we feel that the Government has an obligation to the Opposition to ensure that these are compiled as asked for here. That is all we are asking for. [Mr. Benn: We will show you.] If that is so then fine. We are going to get it. I am going to take my seat. Please provide it before the 1st July, 2012. Mr. Speaker, they have made a commitment that they are going to provide all of that.
Mr. Speaker: Who has? Is it Minister Benn?
Mr. Ramjattan: I just want to close by saying that in view of the Minister saying that...
Mr. Speaker: Which Minister is it?
Mr. Ramjattan: The one who is called Mr. Benn.
That is all we are asking for. Show us the books.
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