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Govt reviewing 19 State-owned entities; APNU+AFC calls it “witch-hunt”

President Dr. Irfaan Ali has appointed a four-man team to conduct a “rapid financial and management assessment” of 19 government agencies including the State-owned media and the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA), government announced.

But A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) almost immediately accused the three-day old government of setting the stage to sack many workers.

“The APNU+AFC considers this development as a clear emerging pattern of conduct on the part of the PPP to target and persecute professionals in the public service,” the coalition said in a statement.

Government’s Department of Public Information (DPI) said the President has appointed a “special technical team” comprising Public Communications Consultant Christopher ‘Kit’ Nascimento, Chartered Accountant and Attorney-at-Law Christopher Ram, Certified Public Accountant Nigel Hinds and Financial Consultant Sasenarine Singh to “immediately” conduct the assessment.

The agencies are the Guyana Power and Light, Guyana Water Incorporated,  Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Central Housing and Planning Authority, Guyana Forestry Commission, Guyana Gold Board, National Industrial and Commercial Limited, Guyana Lands and Survey Commission, The Lotto Fund, Guyana Energy Agency, Guyana Rice Development Board, Guyana Oil Company, Guyana National Shipping Corporation, Guyana Office of Investment (Go-Invest) and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo)

Government said the team would also be conducting a review of the operations, policies and programmes of the Department of Public Information (DPI), the National Communications Network Incorporated (NCN) and the Guyana National Newspaper Limited (Guyana Chronicle). The team will further address the matter of the functions of the Guyana Broadcasting Authority (GNBA), government said.

The David Granger-led APNU+AFC coalition administration had conducted audits of most of those agencies that would now be the subject of the rapid financial and management assessment. A number of persons affiliated with the now People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration had been charged but subsequently acquitted due mainly to weak cases. An accountant at the Guyana Rice Development Board had been extradited from Canada and prosecuted for fraud.

APNU+AFC, in attacking the establishment of the “witch-hunt squad”, said its formation came a mere three days after the PPP regime reportedly “bullied and intimidated” several officers of the Ministry of the Presidency to resign. “The cobbling together of this dubious Rapid Financial Management Assessment Team/Witch Hunt Squad appears to be a knee-jerk response to the backlash the PPP fraud ‘government’ has suffered after the debacle it found itself in when attempting to purge the Ministry of the Presidency on Monday,” the coalition said.

The coalition accused the Ali-led administration of  abusing power nakedly and shamelessly as it seeks to “dole out of the largesse of the state as payback to those who waged its unholy battle to manoeuvre the PPP into government.”

APNU+AFC questioned whether taxpayers’ dollars would be used to pay the Rapid Assessment Team and how much would have to be set aside in the 2020 National Budget if their services would not be free. The coalition wants to know the terms of reference of the team, selection criteria, the method of procuring the team’s services and reasons for identifying those agencies for review.