Nandlall accuses Govt of stashing $305M

first_imgEstimate for AG’s ChambersGovernment has been accused of stashing under the line item ‘other’ a staggering sum of $305 million, which is listed in the estimates and expenditure for the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Legal Affairs Ministry.Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall claims that the term ‘other’ appears on the budgetary programme of every budget agency in the chart of accounts of the national estimates.“As the term suggests, under this rubric, monies are budgeted for expenditures which canFormer Attorney General Anil Nandallbe classified as miscellaneous. Under this head of the Ministry of Legal Affairs’ budget, Attorney-General Basil Williams stashes the staggering sum of $305 million. This is unprecedented,” he opined.Nandall, a former Attorney General, questioned the minister as to what these monies would be used for, and was told that the sum is set aside to pay legal fees for lawyers and prosecutors the AG intends to retain.The services of these legal professionals, the AG said, are to allow him the support as he functions as Chairman of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF). The money would also be used to subsidise the economic costs of students at the Hugh Wooding Law School.The Opposition MP described this as a slush fund, stating that he is compelled to let taxpayers know that the AG has at the Chambers a staff of lawyers under his supervisionAttorney General Basil Williamswho are already paid by the State.“Unlike any other AG in the history of Guyana, he has three former justices and two professors as his advisers. While AGs in the past retained external counsel, this was done in exceptional cases or when there are shortages of staff at the AG Chambers. The staff at present appear to be at its full complement, or close to it,” he explained.Nandlall further stated that prosecution of criminal matters is the sole and exclusive responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions, or those authorised by her by virtue of the Constitution. He also noted that the AG has no role in the prosecution of criminal offences, and the DPP’s budget is merely $274 million.According to the former AG, the Chairmanship of CFATF is a rotational post shared among member states. “It is simply Guyana’s turn now. The expenses in relation to this post are fully paid for by the permanent secretariat of this organization, located in Port of Spain,”And the $18 million which is said to be used to subsidize Guyanese students at the Hugh Wooding Law School appears to be the only justifiable expenditure under the AG’s head.“Having regard to the foregoing, the question which must be asked is if we have to spend such humongous sums of money to pay external counsel, why don’t we close down the AG and the DPP Chambers?”Nandall said it is therefore clear that these offices are both considered useless by the AG, and possibly the Government.Nandlall said, “The truth is that most of this $305 million would become a reservoir for corruption, nepotism and persecution. It is nothing but slush fund for the AG.”last_img read more