GHRA denies owing State GY$38 million; accuses Nandlall of “reprisal” for speaking out

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 March 2023, 6:57 by Denis Chabrol

Mr Mike Mc Cormack

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) is accusing Attorney General Anil Nandlall of engaging in a “reprisal” because of concerns that the association has raised about the process of the Guyana’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

GHRA’s Co-President Mike Mc Cormack challenged Mr Nandlall to prove that he was not being singled out for unfounded claims in retaliation for his views about the failure of Guyana to follow the rules of the GYEITI process.

“As you are aware, a fundamental requirement of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) states that “stakeholders, including but not limited to members of the multi-stakeholder group must be able to operate freely and express opinions about the EITI without restraint, coercion or reprisal”. (EITI Standard 1.3(e) iv). The current action against the GHRA smacks of ‘reprisal’ and dispelling such impressions requires convincing evidence that it is routine rather than targeted,” he said.

The GHRA Co-President why such an accusation of non-compliance was never made between 1992 and 2015 under the previous People’s Progressive Party Civic administration. He also questioned why the Attorney General has not taken steps to amend the legislation to provide for registration of entities as non-governmental organisations.

The GHRA denies Mr Nandlall’s claim that it owes the State GY$38,649,600. for failing to submit its annual returns to the Company Registry since 1974.

Responding to the Attorney General’s assertion that the GHRA has been “masquerading as a credible civil society organisation, Mr Mc Cormack instead, said that its submissions are up to date up to 2020. “The first audited accounts of the GHRA were for the year 1980 and the last for 2020, along with all forty years in between. What steps has the AG’s Chambers taken to address the legion of organizations of every description functioning without audits of any description, including official bodies?,” the rights activist said.

In a stinging response to the Attorney General, the Mr Mc Cormack  said the claim of indebtedness smacks of a reprisal for taking a stance in the Multi-Stakeholder Group of the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

While the Guyana government has blamed civil society representatives-Mr Mc Cormack and Vanda Radzik- for  the suspension of Guyana from the the Norway-headquartered Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative for failing to submit its 2019 report to that body by December 31, 2022. Guyana now now has until July 31, 2022, after the Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat engaged the EITI.

The Guyana government has so far not responded to the reasons given by Mr Mc Cormack and Ms Radzik for the delay in approving the terms of reference for the independent administrator, the UK accounting firm BDO, to compile the reports. Those civil society activists had blamed the four-month long disappearance of the GYEITI’s National Coordinator after his failed attempt to impose terms of reference for the independent administrator.