Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017


Receive email notices when a commentary is uploaded. Join our mailing list.

E-Mail Address:

View Article

Privatization of the Attorney General's Chambers
(Aired 27 February 2002)

    As I understand it the Attorney General's Chambers should function in the public's interest in the following manner.

     They prepare and defend cases on behalf of the state. They craft the decisions made in Parliament in legal language so that they can form part of our Regulations and our Laws. The Attorney General's Chambers should consist of the AG himself, the Solicitor General, the Deputy Solicitor General, the State Solicitor, several lawyers who will appear before the courts to present the state's position in any matter and the research attorneys who look for the precedents legal background etc. to the cases at hand, to determine the basis on which the case will be fought, what is called the pleadings. The Attorney General is the legal guardian of this nation. He is supposed to guide the Government and its functionaries to operate within the law for the protection of our citizens. Ladies and gentlemen in view of what I will outline for you next, you decide if they have fulfilled this important mandate to our people.

    Since coming to power the present Government has systematically destroyed the Attorney General's Chambers.

    Routine matters are given to private lawyers who charge exorbitant fees for doing the states cases, whilst the state continues to pay the lawyers working in the AG's chambers cruelly low salaries.

    The current Attorney General Mr. Doodnauth Singh was given the lions share of this contracted legal work by former Attorney General Ramson, to the tune of several million dollars per month. During the elections petition case for example it is reported that Doodnauth received several million dollars for services rendered, AG Doodnauth refuses to tell us how much, but, it its our money, so he should do so.... and it must form part of the audited accounts of the AG's chambers but I cannot find it. The fact that Doodnauth Singh was the also chairman of the Elections Commission defending it for the state, needs no further comment.

    The Auditor General's report for 1999 reveals that 18.7 million dollars were paid out to contracted lawyers, the auditor general was unable to verify exactly how this 18.7 million dollars was spent and to whom it was paid. 

    Since July??? last year we have been without a Public Service Commission so the AG's chambers is without a Solicitor General, State Solicitor, or Deputy Solicitor General, one would expect that the Attorney General would be crying out in agony at being so short staffed, not so, since it leaves more work to be doled out to private lawyers, and how are these private lawyers selected to do this work???? Are they required to tender for these cases? Are they chosen because of their outstanding legal record? Apparently not. All of these decisions are made by the Attorney General personally, a situation that leaves much to be desired by way of accountability.

    In 2000 it is estimated that private contracting out of these attorney general's chambers functions may be as high as 50 million dollars.

    Ladies and gentlemen the very heart of our legal system is riddled with gross irregularities.

     In the mean time I am informed that Mr. Ganga Persaud AKA the sacrificial lamb, has been surcharged G500 thousand and I quote the very gullible Stabroek news "for contributing to, and being responsible for, their accounting and financial irregularity in relation to the award of the contract for the revision of the laws of Guyana" we may very well ask where was the source of the whitewash bought to obscure this matter, I am personally interested in this since, my garden needs a good coat of whitewash after the recent flooding with the brown sea water. Of course when I read that the committee who decided that Ganga Persaud deserved a slap on the wrist instead of criminal prosecution, consisted of head of the Supreme Court Registry Miss Sita Ramlall who has been charged with contempt of court, who is also retained on special contract conditions outside of the Public service Commission and apparently reports directly to Dr. Luncheon and whose department in the supreme court registry is identified by our auditor general's report as riddled with corruption and incompetence, to substantiate this let me quote from the 1999 audit of Miss Ramlall's department,,, "contracts" the auditors tell us, "totaling 22.8 million dollars revealed apparent subdivision to avoid a system of quotations and/or public advertisement and adjudication by the departmental and/or central tender boards" ladies and gentlemen this is called contract splitting, is totally illegal and disqualifies Ms Ramlall from being a member of any sort of commission which will investigate public wrongdoing, the other member of the COMMISSION is permanent secretary Kenneth Jordan from the ministry of works, which as we all know is our most honest and indeed honorable ministry, which the public suspects burns down its premises from time to time to conceal wrongdoing, Who do these people think that they are fooling???? They can't even apply a coat of whitewash properly.

     The cabinet of this country was fingered by Ganga Persaud as giving instructions for the contracts to be given to New Global. This matter cannot and must not be investigated by anyone other than a completely impartial and independent body. Ladies and gentlemen Mr. Ganga Persaud should be dismissed from the civil service and placed before the courts for this completely dishonest act he now allegedly committed?  But he will not be, because it is not true, he did receive instruction from Cabinet to do the New Global deal. I am saying so, because that is what he told us. So I reject this decision totally and will not accept it until people of character and honesty conduct this investigation and not puppets of the government who are themselves running corrupt departments. Ramlall and Jordan can go ahead and sue me.

    I am getting a little tired of all of this now ladies and gentlemen, BK Tiwari continues to be given government contracts whilst we are still allegedly investigating the disaster that was created at the lama conservancy, good taste if not good sense dictates that he be given no further work until the investigation is complete. Ganga Persaud is now paraded before us as a dupe who performed a foolish act and has to pay a $500,000 fine which I am sure that the cabinet will help him to pay. My mother is guilty of many things my fellow Guyanese, but she did not give birth to any fools. 

    I was away at an emergency meeting to determine what we are going to do with the economic collapse of the Caribbean Media Corporation and its effect on the CBU. I understand that you missed me, since Tommy Rhodes told me of the hundreds of calls he received about there not being any commentary. I apologize for not giving you notice but it WAS an emergency meeting.

   I spent 5 days in Barbados and 5 days in Trinidad. How are our neighbors doing compared to us? let us see.

     The Barbados economy with 260,000 people is booming. Annual investment in Barbados exceeds 1 billion US dollars per year, there are 1500 companies operating there, export oriented companies are given a 7 year tax holiday, the Barbados budget for its 260,000 people, an island which can fit in our Essequibo river is nearly 1 billion US dollars per year, its foreign exchange surplus is half of a billion US dollars, it has managed to maintain almost a 3% growth rate since the 1980's. There are problems this year but they will still declare a 1.7% growth rate but the little island is developing to meet the global problems that will arise in time.

   Trinidad is in a mess politically at the moment but the Island is the financial capitol of the Caribbean, its annual budget is nearly 2.5 billion US dollars for its 1.3 million people.

    Guyana has 750,000 people it is 83 thousand square miles, our annual budget is 325 million US dollars. Eight times LESS than the Trinidad budget, and nearly THREE times less than the Barbados budget, I saw a SUV being sold in Trinidad for 178 thousand TT dollars, I of course did my 6 to one calculation, this vehicle was costing a Trinidadian 29 thousand US dollars, I asked the dealer what the duty was on this vehicle since he clearly could not be selling me a brand new vehicle for this price, he told me that the duty was included in the cost of the vehicle. 170,000 TT for the Vehicle and 8 thousand in duties and taxes, after they recuperated me with the smelling salts, I calculated that this brand new SUV would cost me 22 million G before I got it on the road in Guyana. 113 thousand US dollars.

    The people in this country should ask our public officials this question, when will they stop stuffing their pockets and run our affairs in a competent and honest manner. The national economic pie has disappeared but they have not stopped, they are stealing even the crumbs now. The more I investigate our situation in these comments the angrier and sicker I become,  look around you ladies and gentlemen, take the blinders off. The contempt this government has for its people's intelligence can only be described as total.