Days after Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo accused the coalition Government of settling winnable court causes and causing a huge dent to the treasury, State Minister Joseph Harmon this morning said the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration is to be blamed for this.
According to Harmon majority of the cases which were settled by his Administration had started under the PPP/C regime, which he sad failed to defend the State.
“They, I believe, ineptly failed to provide levels of defence to these matters and which caused the courts to make determinations against the State. If not many, all of these matters were so badly handled that even at the level of appeal, they could not be reversed…Jagdeo could say whatever he wants, the root cause of these problems started in the administration of the PPP. Mr Nandlall as the Attorney General failed miserably to prosecute these matters on behalf of the State. It all falls back into his lap,” he told the media.
According to the government’s spokesperson, his Administration wanted to uphold the rule of law by honouring the settlements.
“We cannot say the citizens who have been granted awards by the Court that we can’t pay it. There are many awards like that and I believe at the appropriate time when the Attorney General makes a full statement of these matters, you would recognise the deep hole in which the PPP has put us in this country,” he posited.
At his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Jagdeo disclosed that the treasury has lost some $85 billion dollars as a result of the Attorney General Chambers settling cases that could have been won by the state in the courts.
However, Minister Harmon explained that these out of court settlements were discussed at the level of cabinet based on proposals tabled by the Attorney General, Basil Williams.
“These are recommendations that are made by the Attorney General. I’m saying that whether it’s out the court or in the court, whatever settlements are made that requires the State to pay over any resources, it is dealt with at Cabinet and a full discussion takes place there and Cabinet gives its guidance to the responsible Minister,” Harmon said.
Of recent, the Attorney General Chambers has come under much criticism for not being able to secure wins in several cases against the state. In fact, only recently the state was ordered by the court to pay over $1.7B in damages to Toolsie Persaud Limited.
Moreover, the Chamber has since made several out of court settlements such as a settlement with DDL, which Jagdeo said on Wednesday is causing the State to lose some $80B, and one with Guyana Tractor Equipment (Guytrac) for which the state paid over $226M.
The Opposition Leader had pointed out that during its 23 years in office, the PPP administration had not made settlements amounting to some $2B.