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Chief Justice to hear arguments in the case filed by Parliamentarian Desmond Trotman – 19th Mar 2013

ian changChief Justice Ian Chang today granted leave to the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, and NICIL, along with its Chief Executive, Winston Brassington, to respond to the case filed by Parliamentarian, Desmond Trotman.

The Parliamentarian, through a team of high profile attorneys, on February 8, filed a motion in the High Court seeking to compel NICIL and Brassington to pay over into the Consolidated Fund, the US$25 million received from the sale of shares in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company, GT&T.

The Government had announced that the US$25 million has been paid into the accounts of NICIL.

But in the said motion, Trotman is asking the court to recognize that under Article 217 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, no money shall be withdrawn from any public fund other than the Consolidated Fund, unless the issuance of those Funds has been authorized by or under an Act of Parliament.

If the court so asserts, it would have a direct bearing on the current funding of the Marriott Hotel project. Under a company created by NICIL, some $2 billion has been paid over to a Chinese contractor to build the Marriott Hotel project, which would cost over US$50 million.

Trotman is claiming that NICIL is an agent of the state and collects large sums of monies on behalf of the state from the sale of state lands, other state assets and dividends from other Government owned companies.

The Government had $20 percent shares in GT&T, which it sold for US$30 million. While US$25 million has been paid over, US$5 million is outstanding.

Trotman argues that NICIL has a constitutional duty under the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act to “fully and promptly” pay into the Consolidated Fund, all monies collected from the sale of Government property or assets.

He quotes Article 216 of the Constitution which states that “all revenues or other monies received by Guyana (not being revenues or other monies that are payable, by or under an Act of Parliament, into some fund established for any specific purpose or that may, by or  under such an Act, be retained by the authority that received them for the purpose of defraying the expenses of that authority), shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund.”

The construction of the Marriott-branded hotel is so far being funded by Guyanese taxpayers and does not involve any local construction workers.

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