In observing recent media reports about the poor financial performance of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has criticised Government, saying the agency’s performance is reflective of two years of mismanagement.
The PPP/C said in a scathing statement that under its leadership, the Privatisation Unit of NICIL contributed tens of billions of dollars to the Treasury from dividends and privatisation receipts.
However, according to the Party, under the coalition Government, NICIL’s finances have been allowed to dwindle due to grave mismanagement and neglect. It was also noted that legal proceedings involving billions of dollars against the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)/Alliance For Change (AFC) are not being actively pursued.
“Valuable real estate that could have been sold or rented are poorly managed and are allowed to deteriorate,” the Opposition PPP further pointed out.
The Party said given the billions of dollars NICIL contributed to the Treasury, it is still to be known, “How much has been transferred under APNU and where the audited accounts are.”
NICIL produced and laid in Parliament clean audit reports, for both NICIL and its subsidiaries, up to the time that the PPP left Government, the Party said.
As such, PPP is now questioning what APNU/AFC has done.
The PPP recalled that when former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran’s report on NICIL was handed back to him, it contained over 100 plus pages of responses. However, the APNU/AFC has never published these responses or similar type responses to the many forensic audits.
It was however noted that the Privatisation Unit has published details on all its transactions, including details relating to transparency and transaction values.
Under the PPP, the Party said, NICIL made economic contributions and investments and loss-making entities were restructured, privatised or improved and NICIL found ways to ensure that its assets were properly managed and contributing financial with economic returns.
“Under the PPP, NICIL was not handed a golden spoon – it was innovative and created substantial value; it investments were not white elephants like the D’Urban Park project,” the PPP statement said.
The Opposition party said if NICIL’s investments in the Berbice Bridge, Marriott or Skeldon Energy have not performed in accordance with its feasibilities, there is a clear connection with how the APNU/AFC policy decisions, incompetence, or action, have directly contributed to any sub-par performance.
“The PPP calls on these matters to be debated in the National Assembly and for APNU to provide all relevant information,” the statement added.
The Opposition said NICIL/PU was relentless in saving the bauxite industry, where hundreds of millions of dollars were injected to maintain the operations in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) from Linmine, Bermine and then Aroaima Bauxite.
Even after privatisation, from 2004, the now acting Chief Executive Officer of NICIL, Horace James, and a large secretariat, were maintained and funded by NICIL to ensure that all matters relating to Linmine were fully addressed and that maximum development was achieved.
“No one mentions these today. Government similarly injected billions of dollars for decades. Linden residents receive electricity at highly subsidised rates today relative to the consumers who pay GPL for power, including power generated by SEI of almost 90 billion KWH,” the PPP noted.
The party said for decades monies were used for support; saving jobs and keeping bauxite alive.
Despite the Marriott, Berbice Bridge and Skeldon Energy Inc as described as “blunders” committed by NICIL, the PPP/C said Marriott today provides many jobs and is the largest taxpayer in the hospitality sector.
“It is no secret that the Marriott project was handicapped when the APNU/AFC Government shelved completion of the casino that was going to be operated by Marriott; funding was already arranged from Republic Bank but it was delayed by court proceedings filed by an APNU Member of Parliament.”
The party said shortly after the APNU/AFC took office, the coalition Government immediately withdrew the legal proceedings and signed the debenture – yet the monies were never utilised to complete the casino and reimburse NICIL for its investment.
In respect of Skeldon Energy Inc (SEI), the Guyana Suagr Corporation (GuySuCo) is yet to transfer the energy assets, which have been held up by its Chairman Clive Thomas. The Opposition party believes therefore that GuySuCo should pay back the monies advanced by GPL and NICIL, since Clive Thomas has breached this agreement.
A few months ago, SEI Chairman Lloyd Rose exposed that GuySuCo had never transferred the assets that GPL and NICIL had paid for. The PPP/C said that means that the US$20 million plus in funds paid by GPL and GuySuCo, have not benefited the 50,000 persons that are affected by GuySuCo.
In making reference to the Berbice Bridge Project, the PPP/C said when it left office in May 2015, NICIL had no investments in the Berbice Bridge. However the coalition Government attacked the Berbice Bridge project and breached the agreements with the many Private Sector investors, yet, according to the PPP, it is now investing in the Berbice Bridge.
The Party also thinks Government was simply playing politics when it reduced tolls, especially since in less than one year, it passed on massive tax increases and fees including the Demerara Bridge toll increase, and attempted to push through the Parking Meter Contract.
“The problems of NICIL today is directly linked to the failure of the APNU Government to properly manage this entity. Economic mis-management and squandering opportunities to create or save investment and jobs, have become the hallmark of this APNU-AFC Government” said the PPP/C.