All contracts signed by caretaker APNU/AFC Govt being reviewed – Edghill

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill
Public Works Minister Juan Edghill

Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill has revealed that all contracts signed by the former APNU/AFC Government after December 21, 2018 will be reviewed by the new PPP/C Administration.

The APNU/AFC Administration was supposed to be in caretaker status following the passage of the no-confidence motion, meaning, it was not supposed to enter into any new arrangements.

However, the David Granger-led administration continued to operate outside of the parameters of a caretaker government.

Edghill, during an interview with this publication, said these contracts are currently engaging the attention of the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall.

“Mr Nandlall, as Attorney General, would be reviewing all of those situations…Cabinet has asked him to do that and the President has instructed him. That’s an ongoing process,” Edghill explained.

Earlier this year, Edghill, whilst a member of the parliamentary opposition, had written to the then Top Cop Leslie James requesting an investigation into reports that the government has broken the law by using monies from the previous fiscal year for projects in the new year.

In the letter, Edghill had referred to reports in sections of the media that the APNU/AFC ‘Cabinet’ noted 57 contracts as of 2019-year end. Edghill pointed out that a contract was signed in 2020, for the construction of a school at Yarrowkabra.

He had also contended in his letter that a cheque was cut on December 31 for the construction of a school at Abraham Zuil. According to him, these monies were drawn from the 2019 budget allocations. He cited Article 217 (1) of the constitution and the Fiscal Management & Accountability Act.

Article 217 states that: “No Moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund except:
a. to meet the expenditure that is charged upon the Fund by this Constitution or by any Act of Parliament, or b. where the issue of those monies has been authorized by an Appropriation Act, or c. where the issue of those monies has been authorized under Article 219.”

Section 43 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Acts states: “Except as otherwise provided in this Act or in any other law, at the end of each fiscal year, any unexpended balance of public monies issued out of the Consolidated Fund shall be returned and surrendered to the Consolidated Fund.”

“Assuming that the legal requirement for the return of all unexpended monies to the Consolidated Fund at the end of the fiscal year 2019 was complied with and, therefore, a legal mechanism would have had to be utilized to make withdrawals in 2020,” Edghill wrote.

“As far as I am aware, no such legal mechanism exists that allows for payment of monies for contracts awarded in 2020. It is against this backdrop that I would like to hereby request that the Guyana Police Force (GPF), immediately; launch an investigation into this matter.”

There has been no word from the Guyana Police Force (GPF) whether the issues raised in the letter have been acted upon. James has since proceeded on 307 days pre-retirement leave, with Deputy Commissioner Nigel Hoppie stepping in as acting Police Commissioner.