Georgetown, Guyana – (February 8, 2016) After almost $500 million over a period of two years being expended on the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams said he is disappointed about the delay in the handing over of the report, due to a “lack of ink”; adding that this is unfair to the President and people of Guyana.
The Report, which was supposed to be presented to President David Granger at midday today, was not submitted because the Chairman of that Commission, Sir Richard Cheltenham, informed the Attorney General that he had run out of ink while printing the document. This call was made even though President Granger had already arrived at the Ministry of the Presidency to facilitate the handing over of the report. The Attorney General said he found this totally unacceptable for any sitting President, especially given the fact that President Granger has been more than accommodating in the past months, in granting time extensions.
“I am deeply concerned. I am even more concerned that this is a Presidential Inquiry and that the President has been asked for extensions of time and every time the President agreed. It is not an appropriate way to deal with the President of a country and I think the time has come for us to put a definitive end to this entire Commission of Inquiry… the President has bent over backwards on many occasions. It is unfair to the President and the people of Guyana to continue it… I am fed up of the entire situation,” the Attorney General said.
Minister Williams added that he found the handling of the matter by the Commissioner surprising and unfair to the Guyanese people since he had put all arrangements in place to ensure the completion of the work of the Commission, which had been set up under the previous administration.
“I didn’t understand what he meant [when he said that] because when they arrived I sought to ensure that they were properly ensconced and that they had all the relevant facilities. In fact, I had handed over the arrangements to Mr. [Hugh] Denbow, [the Administrator] for him to work with them so I was actually surprised that Sir Richard was saying that,” he said.
Sir Richard had requested that the handing over be rescheduled to a time later in the day but Minister Williams indicated that this arrangement seemed uncertain. “Sir Richard was asking for any time between 16:00hrs and 18:00hrs this evening, which again sounded very iffy and I had to come to Parliament,” he said.
With regard to outstanding payments to the Commissioners, Minister of Finance, Mr. Winston Jordan, had sought to receive copies of the contracts that had been entered into by the previous administration. However, it was revealed that those contracts were never signed.
“As you know, the cost of this Commission is almost half a billion dollars… The things that we wanted from Sir Richard included a copy of the contract that he had entered into and I understand from Sir Richard that they hadn’t any signed contract because of that the Minister of Finance is insisting that he is given a contract so that they would be able to pay on these basis of such a contract,” he said.
While the Minister expressed his exasperation at the constant delays of the Report, he noted the handing over of the report is in the hands of Sir Cheltenham.