Senior Counsel, Ralph Ramkarran on Wednesday expressed outrage at repeated attempts to tarnish the image of the former People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration’s management of the country based on piecemeal information.
“Everyday, we see these things in the papers. He (Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma) gets wind of some information and then he goes and he maligns people. All the time he is doing it. This is a pattern of this government that is unhealthy and not conducive to the resolution of matters,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
He made known his position in reaction to claims by Attorney General, Basil Williams that the 99-year lease of Red House by the Cheddi Jagan Research Institute Inc. for about GUY$1,000 per year was illegal and amounted to the theft of government property. “It’s misconduct in public office for the criminal office side and misfeasance in public office on the civil side,” Williams told a news conference earlier Wednesday.
Ramkarran singled Sharma as someone who maligns persons in the media based on preliminary audit reports on agencies such as the State’s holding company of government assets- the National Industrial Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL)- and the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU).
Ramkarran resigned from the PPP on June 30, 2012 amid growing tensions about one of his columns in the PPP-aligned newspaper that pervasive corruption needed to be addressed.
The former House Speaker challenged the Attorney General to take steps to have those allegedly culpable charged criminally in connection with the lease of Red House.
“If Mr. Williams believes there is criminal liability, then he knows what to do. What is the point of making these allegations and so on? If he thinks there is criminal liability, let him take steps which he thinks should be taken,” said Ramkarran, a former long-serving senior PPP member.
Ramkarran declined to say whether the leasing of Red House was improperly done, and said he had “absolutely no recollection” about being one of the directors of Cheddi Jagan Research Inc.
Asked in what capacity he met the Attorney General last week to discuss the issue concerning Red House, he said “I have nothing further to say about this matter, nothing at all.”
Williams earlier Wednesday said he met with Ramkarran and PPP Executive Member, Hydar Ally last week and proposed that Red House be a research centre for all of Guyana’s presidents, not only late President Cheddi Jagan. But Ramkarran declined to say whether he supported the idea because the two sides were in discussions. “The Red House matter, I believe, is under discussion between the Red House people and the government and it would be highly inappropriate at this time for anybody to make a comment on what position each side is taking,” said Ramkarran.
Jagan and his family lived at Red House, High Street, Kingston, Georgetown, while he was premier in the 1960s.
The Attorney General stressed that governnment’s position is that the colonial wooden building should not be a repository of material only about the life and work of Dr. Jagan, Guyana’s architect of independence from Britain.
“The land has to be returned to the State and the question of the building itself- the building ought not to be used only for the late President Cheddi Jagan. We have other past presidents. I mentioned all the past presidents should really be dealt with at that building,” said the Attorney General.
Guyana’s former presidents are Arthur Chung (largely titular), Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte, Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan, Samuel Hinds, Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar.