During his weekly programme, “Issues in the News” aired last evening, Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall said that “no system is perfect” as he shot down the accusation that persons who did not benefit from the government’s $25,000 cash grant were deliberately overlooked because of their race.
During the Budget 2021 Debates, Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) levelled similar allegation against the government. That claim has since been repeated by persons within the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Opposition camp, with the Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon, upping pressure for an audit to be conducted into the multibillion-dollar initiative.
Executive Director of the Leader of the Opposition’s Office, Aubrey Norton recently repeated the allegation, but Nandlall said that the Opposition, including Norton, must provide evidence that those persons, who did not benefit, were deliberately overlooked because of their ethnicity. He said that when the accusation was made in the National Assembly, he requested from the Opposition a list of these persons. To date, no list has been submitted.
“Why we can’t get that done? We must accept Aubrey Norton’s asinine utterances – absolutely unsupported by an iota of evidence – that this thing is racism? He stands and he speaks, and he cannot draw one example; can’t produce one human being and let us interview that human being. I’m not saying that everybody got. I am saying that who did not get was not discriminated against. No system is perfect,” the AG said.
He continued: “Indo-Guyanese meet me, right across this country, and say they have been omitted [and] that they (distribution team) didn’t come to our house. I have no doubt that there are Afro-Guyanese, too, in that category. But, to go out and say that there was a deliberate policy to discriminate against Afro-Guyanese, I find that reprehensible. We are still waiting on that list so we can speak with those persons.”
The Attorney General also responded to a recent allegation that some 50 city businessmen benefitted from $25M each in COVID-19 relief, compliments of the government. It was Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon who claimed to have unearthed this “explosive revelation” during his Bourda Market walkabout two days ago. However, requests for evidence fell on deaf ears.
Nandlall, in his usual style, debunked the claim; saying that it would be impossible to divert that amount of money unnoticed and without parliamentary approval and scrutiny.
“Harmon is walking stall to stall at the Bourda Market and simply lying to the people; telling them that we’ve shared out some $25M to businessmen – a few selected businessmen as COVID grants. I don’t know if it is stupidity, if they don’t listen to themselves. The amount of money he called, amounts to $1.2 billion in a system which is manned by public servants; you can’t withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund – expect by an appropriation approved by the Parliament.”