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Public funds used to finance electioneering outreach to US, Canada

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo and PPPC Prime Ministerial Candidate, Elisabeth Harper at one of the outreach activities in New York (photo from Elisabeth Harper’s Facebook)

The Guyana government on Thursday skirted questions about why public funds amounting to US$13,100 (GY$2.7 million) were used to finance an overseas trip under the guise of a Diaspora Outreach that apparently turned out to be an electioneering mission.

Asked why Cabinet had granted approval for the trip to Canada and the United States by several persons, Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon would only say that Cabinet must give the green-light for such expenditure from the treasury.

“You can’t expect that these activities conducted by officials and leading to expenditure of public funds would not be graced by a cabinet decision,” he said.

Luncheon declined to answer whether the financing of the trips amounted to a misuse of public funds, saying that the press conference was an inappropriate forum to deal with that. Instead, he said those were matters that could be addressed by the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“The issue of whether it is an appropriate expenditure might be entertained by the Auditor General, the Public Accounts Committee and such bodies but at the end of the day you have to have cabinet approval to spend the government money,” he said.

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo, PPPC Prime Ministerial Candidate Elisabeth Harper, her husband Mark Harper, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Tourism, Housing and Water Minister Irfan Ali and other persons were in Canada and the US during the past week.

Most of the events they attended were fundraisers in aid of the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections.