Legal affairs PS to be surcharged $500 000
Stabroek News
February 28, 2002

Ganga Persaud, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, is to be surcharged $500 000 for contributing to, and being responsible for the accounting and financial irregularity in relation to the award of a contract for the revision of the laws of Guyana.

Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon told reporters at yesterday's post Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President that Cabinet had accepted the recommendation of the team that had investigated the US$222 500 contract for updating the Laws of Guyana.

The contract was awarded to the Queen's New York based company, New Global Consults Limited, but was repudiated by the Guyana government on the grounds that the award was irregular and that no provision had been made either in the 2000 or 2001 budgets to fund it.

Up to press time, Persaud had not been informed about the Cabinet's acceptance of the recommendation from the team which consisted of Supreme Court Registrar, Seeta Ramlall and Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Works, Kenneth Jordan.

Persaud is to return to work and will have to negotiate the period over which the surcharge will be repaid with the Accountant General, Dr Luncheon said. Persaud was sent on special leave with full pay pending the determination of the case against him.

Responding to questions about the recommendation, Dr Luncheon said that Ramlall and Jordan had pointed out that the unavailability of all the information relating to the funding of the contract in the files accessible to Persaud as well as the fact that he had joined the Ministry at a time when the project was ongoing, had contributed to the procedural lapse on his part.

However, he said, "a well informed Accounting Officer, either through experience or documentation, might even with a flawed transmittal mechanism between the Central Tender Board, Cabinet and the sector Ministry... have readily recognised the need to put the standard operating procedure in place.

"Sadly in this case PS Persaud's novelty and the failure to access relevant information it was felt contributed to this financial and accounting lapse."

Dr Luncheon said too that a number of other recommendations made by Ramlall and Jordan were already being implemented. These recommendations called for the accounting officers to be informed of all aspects of their responsibilities including the requirements of foreign funded projects, the conditionalities attached to these projects, the rules of procurement and meeting he conditionalities of the donors prior to the disbursement of funds.

Ramlall and Jordan were appointed to hear the case against Persaud after the Office of the President had recommended to the Public Service Commission that he should be disciplined for awarding the contract in the absence of any budgetary provision in either the 2000 or 2001 budgets.

The contract was to have been funded by the Inter American Development Bank but would have had to be advertised first. Persaud claimed that the Cabinet decision had said that it was to he awarded to New Global Consults Ltd. He said that a letter from the Central Tender Board had stated that it was to be awarded on the basis of sole sourcing.