The National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) is the body to make pronouncements on the shares that it had held in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Limited (GTT) and not the Minister of State.
Subject Minister, Joseph Harmon, made this disclosure on Friday when he met with members of the local media corps at the Ministry of the Presidency for a post-Cabinet briefing.
Harmon was at the time responding to queries that Government might be in receipt of a document from Hong Kong Telecoms that may have outlined what obtained with the missing US$5 million due to NICIL.
The Minster of State told media operatives that when it comes to the matter involving the GT&T shares, the matter is for NICIL as a corporate body and that his engagement in the matter was on behalf of NICIL, since he is a Director of the Government-owned company.
According to Harmon, all of the documents were handed to NICIL, which holds responsibility and within whose jurisdiction the matter rests.
According to Harmon, he is but a Director at NICIL, and as such, is not at liberty to discuss matters of the Board. He said it is the Chairman and Executive Secretary that are vested with the authority to make pronouncements on behalf of the NICIL Board.
He said all of the relevant documents pertaining to the outstanding US$5 million have been turned over to the NICIL Board of Directors.
The missing US$5 million, that was supposed to be paid to NICIL by a Chinese-based company for shares held in GT&T, was also flagged by Auditor General Deodat Sharma, in his 2015 report on the audits of the national accounts.
According to Sharma, NICIL was the registered holder of 4125 shares, representing 20 per cent of the holdings in GT&T but this was sold in November 2012.
“On November 8, 2012, upon signing of the agreement, an amount of $4.9 billion was transferred to NICIL… the balance of US$5 million remaining should have been paid by the company within two years. At the time of reporting, no payment was made with respect to the outstanding balance.”
Sharma also reported that with respect to the audits of NICIL as an entity, the audit for 2014 is still being finalised.
With regards to the company’s consolidated financial statements, “these have been completed and reports issued up to the year 2006.”
Meanwhile, the Auditor General found also that NICIL – another of the state-owned institutions, which the APNU/AFC has in the past criticised as a slush fund – continues to function in a manner where it retains significant bulks of its proceeds.
This state of affairs has since been adversely reflected on the national accounts since a shortfall of $1 billion from NICIL represented more than half of what was supposed to be collected by Government as part of its revenues on dividends from non-financial institutions.
According to the 2015 Audit Report, an amount of just over $1 billion was reflected as dividends from non-financial institutions, as received from NICIL for the Guyana Oil Company (Guyoil) for 2015 as an interim payment.
It was found after an examination of the financial statements for Guyoil that in 2015, just over $2 billion was in fact handed over to NICIL, which in turn only handed over half of that amount to the Treasury.