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Ganga Persaud faces hot water over contracts

Ganga Persaud

Former minister of Local Government, Ganga Persaud was allegedly issued multi-million dollar government contracts for consultations via system that the new government alleges cannot withstand tough scrutiny.

Government further accused Persaud of failing to show the work he was asked to do and what he had actually done.

Minister of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon leveled the charge, citing at least two  instances where it appears positions in the former administration were abused to award contracts to Persaud.

Persaud did not immediately return calls made to him for a comment on this claim.

The minister made the claim to reporters on Thursday, one day after he revealed to the public that members of the former administration engaged in the practice of abusing their positions to obtain free fuel from Guyana Oil Company Limited (GUYOIL).

He declined, however to reveal significant details surrounding the matter. These details, he explained, would be provided during next week’s post-Cabinet press briefing. He did reveal, though, that it involved the former administration’s Ministries of Labour and Culture Youth and Sport.

The Labour Ministry was absorbed into the Ministry of Social Protection whose minister, Volda Lawrence, says Persaud has requested payment amounting to several million dollars for having carried out a consultation for the former ministry’s Co-ops Department. She was unable to cite the exact amount which Persaud is reportedly owed.

Lawrence, who said the matter came to her attention approximately two weeks ago, says she is unable to locate a report outlining work done by Persaud.

“If you were given a consultancy you have to present a report and no one could have located the report based on that consultancy. He has to get that report first and then we will be able to take it from there,” Lawrence told Demerara Waves Online News in an interview yesterday. She says that there is “no such report in the ministry.”

She explained that while the contract contained the period during which the consultancy was to be provided, it was devoid of a Terms of Reference (TOR), thus making it impossible for her to know the nature of work Persaud was contracted to carry out. It did state, however, that the work was relevant to the former ministry’s Co-ops Department.

“There was no terms of reference attached to the contract…the terms of reference would have outlined what was expected of him and so on but there was nothing attached,” Lawrence explained.

The minister says that Attorney General (AG), Basil Williams, has been contacted for advice as she contemplates how to proceed with the matter. Williams could not be reached for an update on any advice given, or to be given to Lawrence.

Lawrence also mentioned that her Permanent Secretary reached out to Persaud a week ago attempting to obtain his report. He is reportedly yet to respond to the ministry.

Previous to this matter, it came to light that former Public Service Minister, Jennifer Westford, allegedly attempted to illegally transfer ownership state vehicles. In addition to the Westford fiasco, Harmon revealed attempts to transfer ownership of several other vehicles from various state agencies. 

Meanwhile, Education Minister, Rupert Roopnaraine, whose ministry the other relevant ministries fall under, says he is not aware of such an abuse of powers in the former ministry to award Persaud contracts. He nevertheless said that he is awaiting reports on government’s ongoing investigation into such matters.

Persaud served as Minister of Local Government in the Donald Ramotar Administration until he resigned under controversial circumstances. Though he said he was resigning for personal reasons, he never disclosed the specific nature of the reason he quit.