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NDIA boss sent on 308 days leave

FLASH BACK: NDIA CEO, Lionel Wordsworth explains contract design for pump station to then Minister of Agriculture Dr Leslie Ramsammy (Agri Ministry photo)

by Zena Henry

Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) Lionel Wordsworth has been sent on 308 days leave commencing Monday July 5. 

Wordsworth, who has headed the drainage and irrigation arm of the Agriculture Ministry for some time, is said to have accumulated that due leave over a long period.

Wordsworth who had taken some public bashing of “controversial” matters involving his sector is “expected” to return to the job when his leave is over, Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder told Demerara Waves Sunday July 4.

He said Wordworth’s leave is due as, “he has not been on leave for some time now.” When asked about the CEO’s return to the job, he said, “I would expect so.” Questioned on whether the leave was to facilitate audits at the NDIA, the Minister said  two have just been concluded, “simultaneously,” , adding that that the Ministry would have to wait on the outcome of audits to decide the fate of the CEO.

Wordsworth is one of the former administration’s “sympathetic” types that many persons thought would have gotten the boot under the new administration especially when his name was called in a number of fraudulent matters.

In 2012, an audit report on the operations of the NDIA recommended the immediate dismissal of the Wordsworth and the Senior Section Engineer, Aneel Chowbay, after several instances of fraud and conflict of interest were unearthed in relation to fuel consumption and equipment operations and maintenance conducted between May and September of that year.

The report was sent to the NDIA board and former President Donald Ramotar.

Many stakeholders had called for Wordsworth’s head because of delays and set backs on many projects his agency undertook such as the Hope Canal project and the supply and implementation of Surendra pumps for drainage operations, to name a few.

Another embarrassing public display for Wordsworth in 2012 was just after the report alleging irregularities , Khemraj Ramjattan, representing the Alliance for Change (AFC) at the time had told the media that, “This was the same person, who months after being appointed CEO of NDIA, saw his wife who was working for $42,000 per month buy a house for $60M. This is vindication of their princely lifestyle and how it is sustained,” Ramjattan charged as he alleged wide spread corruption under the previous government.

Then Agriculture Minister Leslie Ramsammy, at the time, described the NDIA report as mischievous as he defended the NDIA boss, who had made little attempt to defend himself. The matter died a natural death after as Wordsworth remained in his post.