During the consideration of the budget estimates for the Legal Affairs Ministry it was revealed that the head of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) earns almost $5 million a month in salary and benefits and the wage bill was over $200 million in one year for the Agency.
On Monday Attorney General Basil Williams was interrogated by his predecessor, Anil Nandlall about various allocations.
One that stood out was the sum of $285 million allocated under line item 6321, ‘subsidies and contributions to local organisations’.
Asked to explain which organisation the money was going to, Williams revealed that it was earmarked for SARA.
He noted that $10 million of the amount was for capital expenses, while the remaining would be for current expenditure.
Nandlall requested a breakdown of this amount. It was then that Williams revealed of the current amount, $225 million would be spent on wages and salaries for SARA employees in just one year.
“The post of Director, the salary and benefits is $4.7 million per month,” Williams revealed.
“The special assistant, that amount is $3.3 million; executive assistant, $1.86 million; Deputy Director, $3.3 million.”
Williams also noted that another executive assistant was earning $688,000, while the Chief Administrative Officer was carrying home $2.5 million. In addition, SARA’s Legal Adviser earns $3 million, while a lawyer in the Agency earns $1.4 million and an administrative officer, $679,000.
The Director of SARA is Professor Clive Thomas, who was at one time also Chairman of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). Thomas was also appointed a Presidential Advisor when the coalition Government came to office in 2015. SARA’s Deputy Director is Aubrey Heath-Retmeyer.
It was just recently that audit firm Ram and McRae suggested that SARA be scrapped altogether and its functions transferred to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), in its published ‘budget focus’ review of Budget 2019.
The firm had cited some qualms with SARA, including the Agency’s failure to have its annual plan and Code of Practice tabled in the National Assembly. Pointing out that the $285 million the agency is set to receive in 2019 is an increase from last year’s amount, Ram and McRae was critical of this lapse.
Also, the firm had been of the view that SARA has failed to live up to its expectations of even recovering assets.