By: Bibi Khatoon
Over $175M was expended by the government to conduct several Commission of Inquiries (COIs) since its assumption to office in May 2015.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon revealed the associated costs of eleven COIs in a written response to questions submitted by Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira in the National Assembly on Thursday (November 02, 2017).
The document disclosed that a total of $175,559,875 was spent on the COIs which were completed thus far.
The Peoples’ Progressive Party’s Executive member submitted a list of 15 COIs for disclosures on the overall cost the amount paid to Commissioners and Chair and whether the reports will be laid before the National Assembly was requested.
The document disclosed that a total of $51,844,239 was spent into the CoI which was launched into the operations of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) in 2015. The final report of that Commission was submitted in September 2015 and tabled in the National Assembly on December 30, 2015. Chairman for that CoI was paid a total of $1,980,000 while members were paid $2,400,000.
The Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service completed in May 2016, racked up an expenditure of $40,173,981 with $550,000 being paid to the Chairman and $500,000 to its sole member.
The CoI completed into the 2016 Camp Street Prison unrest which caused the death of 17 prisoners cost the Government a total of $12,299,087 with the chairman paid $500,000 and member paid $350,000.
The Chairman of the Commission established in 2016 to look into the Education sector was paid a total of $4,800,000 while the members were paid $2,400,000. The total overall cost of the CoI was listed at $26,743,300.
In July of 2016, a CoI was also launched into the fire at the Hadfield Street, Children’s Drop-in Centre which caused the death of Antonio George and his brother Joshua George. According to the document, the cost of the Inquiry was $1,358,062.
As it relates to the Commission into the conditions of Veterans from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the Guyana’s People’s militia and the Guyana National Service which was yesterday (Thursday, November 02, 2017) tabled in the National Assembly, the Government spent $14,831,520. Of the sum, $750,000 was paid to the Chair.
Also completed in 2016 was a CoI to investigate, examine, probe and report on the circumstances which led to the collapse of the mining pit and death of Keon Wilson who died on October 08 2016, to the tune of $5,196,912. Also paid to the Chair was $750,000.
The inquiry into the discovery of the illegal aircraft discovered near the village of Yupukari, Upper Essequibo-Upper Takutu on September 13, 2016, cost a total of $8,355,114.
The document said $1,091,674 was spent to investigate allegations made by drug dealer, Barry Dataram against the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU).
Submitted on May 31, 2017, the CoI into the interception and subsequent release of an unnamed private maritime vessel in the sea space of Guyana between February 11 to 14, 2017, cost $8,262,179. Of the total, $550, 000 was paid to the Chairman and $500,000 was paid to the member.
The report of the commission into the alleged plot to assassinate the President was on Thursday laid in the National Assembly. According to the document, the Government spent $5,403,737 on the investigation which found that the police deliberately failed to conduct a proper investigation into the alleged plot for various reasons.
Also requested was the sum spent on the Lands CoI but Harmon stated that the Commission is still ongoing.
In December 2015, it was disclosed that the Government spent a total of $133,045,900 on some 45 forensic audits since it assumed office in May of that year.