— ANUG urges police to enforce law to fullest extent where acts of illegality are found
A NEW and United Guyana (ANUG) is calling for David Patterson to resign as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as all public office holders should be held accountable for their actions. Patterson, who is the General-Secretary of the Alliance For Change (AFC) and former Minister of Public Infrastructure, is facing a fraud charge following an appearance at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on Monday. The charge stemmed from the controversial contract awarded for the feasibility study and design of a new Demerara River Crossing in 2016.
It is alleged that, between November 18, 2016, and February 1, 2018, at Georgetown, Patterson, and former General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) Corporation, Rawlston Adams, conspired with each other and with other persons unknown, to defraud the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) of $162M.
The money belonged to the Asphalt Plant, which falls under the purview of the DHBC.
ANUG, in a press statement Tuesday, said it is time Guyanese insist on systems of governance that ensure transparency and to hold public officers and ministers on both sides of the political divide accountable for their actions. During the past months, ANUG stated that evidence has been emerging of several instances of improper transactions by senior Government officials of the previous regime and the State enterprises which they controlled, where assets were given to the officials as gifts or at grossly undervalued ‘sales’.
“The latest scandal of gift-giving to emerge seems to involve the Ministry of Public Works (Ministry of Public Infrastructure between 2015-2020) and the agencies which fall under it, namely the Maritime Administration Department and the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation. Initially, the former subject Minister, David Patterson, whom it was alleged had improperly received ‘gifts’ of jewellery, denied any knowledge of these gifts,” ANUG noted.
Further, the party noted that Patterson even claimed that he does not wear jewellery. However, after being shown the evidence, he later admitted that he did receive such ‘gifts’.
“Brazenly, he asserted that he was not aware that his acceptance of such ‘gifts’ breached any regulations and that he had not asked that the ‘gifts’ be bought for him. Ironically, Mr. Patterson is Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the Parliament. This Parliamentary Committee has the role of scrutinising public spending and public accounts,” ANUG stated.
Conceivably, ANUG noted that this is the Committee that would scrutinise and police the giving of ‘gifts’ and below-value sale of assets of State property to officials in circumstances of abuse and conflict of interest.
“Mr. Patterson is resisting calls for him to step down as Chairman of the PAC. ANUG notes these developments and, repeats our message that for there to be change from the continued misuse and disregard for public and public funds, there must be transparency,” the party said.
The party explained that as long as public agencies are populated by managers and directors handpicked by the political party in power, there is no transparency and the opportunity for implant continues. ANUG calls on the police to enforce the law to its fullest extent where acts of illegality are found.