In accordance with the law?

Page 414 of the March 15 parliamentary debate on Paper 7 for replenishment of the Contingencies Fund, Mr Khemraj Ramjattan, the AFC MP drew the attention of the National Assembly to section 24 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) which requires the Finance Minister, “when introducing a supplementary appropriation Bill, [to] present to the National Assembly the reasons for the proposed variations and provide a supplementary document describing the impact that the variations, if approved will have on the financial plan in the annual budget.”

The Speaker, either because he did not appreciate that such supplementary document ought already to have been presented or because he wanted to take his ‘brother’ off the hook, intervened as follows:

“Speaker: Hon Minister of Finance, will you be in a position to give an undertaking that you will accord and abide by the conditions of the Act?”

Most persons would have to think for a moment or two to come up with a convenient excuse. Others will simply lie. Without a blink, instead of being gracious and honest in accepting such a generous hand from the Speaker, Dr Singh chose to respond as follows:

“Dr Singh: Mr Speaker, as has always been the case [emphasis added], the relevant submission will be made in accordance with the law.”

The truth is that Dr Singh has never once presented at any stage, in close to fifteen supplementary appropriations bills introduced by him since 2006, any supplementary document required by section 24 of the FMAA. The irony is that on this particular occasion he could simply have said that since the year had already expired, the supplementary document was really academic and he did not think it would serve any useful purpose. But, no, Dr Singh had to misrepresent on the parliamentary record an impeccable compliance record since his ego was more important than the truth.

Not that Dr Singh’s action on this occasion was surprising. He sat silent while his ministerial colleague Irfaan Ally misled the National Assembly over the earlier $4 billion transaction with GuySuCo. He played a leading role in either misleading the public about CLICO concealing the truth and so too concerning the Kingston Marriot. And most importantly and currently, he is central to the NICIL illegalities.

So consistent has Dr Singh been that I cannot be confident about what he would say if asked similar questions about the tabling of any of the following:

1. the annual report and audited financial statements of NICIL;
2. filing of annual returns of NICIL at the Deeds Registry;
3. the annual mid-year report within sixty-days of June 30 under the FMAA;
4. the annual report of the GRA;
5. the annual report of the NIS;
6. loan agreements under the External Loans Act.

But Dr Singh’s distortions go beyond these. He failed to disclose to the National Assembly that in 2010 he closed dormant accounts with balances of more than $30 billion when the budgeted Norway funds did not arrive.

It is not only uncomfortable, but also dangerous to have a Finance Minister who puts his ego ahead of the truth.

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