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Dismissal letter to Guyana Chronicle’s Finance Comptroller withdrawn; PM Nagamootoo orders probe into spending, info leak

Last Updated on Monday, 10 September 2018, 16:48 by Denis Chabrol

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo today summoned Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Mrs Geeta Chandan-Edmund and General Manager Mr Sherod Duncan. Also present at the meeting were Director of Public Information Imran Khan and GNNL Editor-in-Chief Nigel Williams

Less than one day after the Finance Comptroller of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL) was issued a dismissal letter by the General Manager,  a decision has been taken to rescind that correspondence, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

The rescinding of the letter followed a high-level meeting at Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s offices with General Manager Sherod Duncan and Editor-in-Chief Nigel Williams and Chairman of the Board of  Directors, Geet Chandan-Edmond.

“Prime Minister Nagamootoo was briefed by both the Chair and General Manager, and presented with relevant documentation. The Chair and the GM agreed that the letter of termination issued to the Finance Comptroller will be immediately rescinded and that the Board should determine the appropriate course of action that could follow,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Nagamootoo also ordered a probe into the spending under Duncan’s management and the leakage of the financial records. “The Prime Minister further instructed that a full investigation be conducted by the Board on both matters and that a report be presented to him, as subject minister, upon its completion,” the statement added. No date has been set for for the investigation to be completed, but the Board, which has been reconstituted with effect from June 1, 2018 will meet before month-end.

Attorney-at-Law, Sanjeev Datadin earlier Monday told Demerara Waves Online News that he was preparing to send the GNNL a letter on behalf of the Finance Controller, Moshamie Ramotar.

Datadin  said the dismissal letter, which was signed by Duncan and not copied to anyone else, did not state a reason for her dismissal. “She has no idea. You have to give a reason of some kind,” the lawyer told Demerara Waves Online News.

Ramotar, according to her lawyer, was asked by Duncan about a Demerara Waves Online News article about which we said she had no knowledge of.  The Finance Controller was then asked to hand over files and data that she had in her possession and she complied.

The actions against Ramotar, who has worked with the Guyana Chronicle for the past 22 years, has not gone down well with numerous staff members.

“Everyone is upset. She is a genuinely nice woman,” a staff member said of Ramotar who once acted as General Manager. Prior to Duncan’s appointment on June 1, 2018, Ramotar had reportedly declined taking over management of the company substantively.

A senior manager of the company could only be sacked by the Board or in its absence the Prime Minister who has responsibility for the state media sector.

Duncan is reportedly upset that Demerara Waves Online News has seen detailed financial records that itemise expenses totalling more than GY$5 million in less than three months since he took over the management of the company. Details of the monies spent can be seen by clicking here to go to a previous story.

He has defended those expenses, saying they were above-board and invested in pushing the Social Media delivery of news and information by the Guyana Chronicle. Duncan has assured that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has been kept abreast of the expenditures and the thrust of the company under his management.

Following what has been described as a “splurge”, the GNNL has since introduced “austerity” measures to reduce spending on overtime, meal allowances, electricity, telephone, and fuel and lubricants.

“We have recognised that certain costs have had a huge variance over our previous year’s spending and we are asking that your support to our austerity measures would play a great role in realising some of the ideas that we have for the company”.