Chandan-Edmond resigns with immediate effect; debunks Prime Minister’s allegations

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Chair of the Board of Directors of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited, printer of the Guyana Chronicle, Geeta Chandan-Edmond, has resigned with immediate effect over Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s decision to reinstate former General Manager Sherod Duncan.

“I hereby submit my resignation as Chairman of the Board of Directors, with immediate effect, since I believe I cannot continue to act at the level of ethics that you clearly require of the position,” the letter of resignation stated.

In a five-page letter to the Prime Minister on Tuesday afternoon, hours after he informed her of his decision, Chandan-Edmond has debunked accusations against the board.

Quoting “Directors of GNNL,” the Prime Minister in his letter contended that a vote was not taken at the April 2nd meeting which saw the dismissal of Mr. Duncan.

However, Chandan-Edmond, a lawyer and former Magistrate, noted that at that meeting three Directors voted to retain Duncan while three voted to dismiss him, causing her to use her right to vote which she cast in favour of dismissing Duncan.

“Your correspondence sought to discredit this process by making reference to information bordering hearsay from persons you refer to merely as ‘Directors of GNNL’ with no, absolutely no reference to who those directors are and no record of their submissions in this regard,” she said.

“I respectfully submit, that we cannot effect policy decision at this institution of national consequence on such an inconsequential basis,” Chandan-Edmond added.
She alluded to the minutes of the meeting which she attached to the letter sent to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister also the decision was “arbitrary, capricious, unlawful and in excess of the jurisdiction of the Board,” to which the Chair said such characterization is not only insulting but injurious to her integrity and those of the other Directors who voted to dismiss Duncan.

Chand-Edmond also pointed to several instances in the past where Duncan was implicated in the media for financial impropriety.

She also noted that the investigation which led to his dismissal was done by the Auditor General and multiple violations were found.

“Not only was the process that led to Mr. Duncan’s dismissal exceedingly thorough in terms of due process but his dismissal comes under express jurisdiction of the Board of Directors,” she concluded.

The Chair said when she accepted the position of Chair, it was with the understanding that her professionalism and integrity would not be unfairly assailed but the Prime Minister’s letter “not only calls into question my professionalism but the professionalism of fellow members of the Board of GNNL.”

Chandan-Edmond resigned with Board Directors Hilbert Foster and Mervyn Williams.

Williams in an interview with the News Room on Tuesday afternoon said the Prime Minister’s decision came as a surprise. While confirming what Chandan-Edmond said, he added that he was aware of Duncan appealing the dismissal but believed the Board should have been given a fair hearing before a decision is taken.

“If the Honourable Prime Minister is not pleased or satisfied with the decision of the Board on this matter to the extent that he has issued instructions for the board to rescind its decision, then I believe that conscientiously, I should remove myself from the board,” Williams said.

Efforts to contact Foster and Duncan himself proved futile.

The audit of the State newspaper’s operations from June 1, 2018, to September 10, 2018 found that tender rules were breached where, under Duncan’s watch, services were procured without contracts and approvals were given for payments without the regular procedure of company stamp or signature.

Further, cash advances were given to Duncan to travel overseas but he did not clear the amounts, among other infringements.

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