Guyanese born, Canada based journalist, Shaun Samaroo is defending the payment of $16 Million to him by the former PPP Civic government for his coverage of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry. However, he is contending that the money was not for writing reports for the Guyana Chronicle but rather for the writing and publishing of a book on the inquiry and other projects.
On Monday, new Attorney General Basil Williams while pointing out that the previous government had spent $325 Million on the Commission whichis still to complete its work, revealed that a state media journalist was paid the hefty sum of $16M for his services of covering and reporting on the Commission’s work.
But in a Tuesday morning statement, Mr. Samaroo said it is ‘erroneous and misleading” to state that he was paid the money for his reports on the inquiry that appeared in the Guyana Chronicle.
“At no time and under no circumstance did the Government of Guyana contract my professional media services, or paid me, to report in the State media. I was never contracted as a State media reporter.”
He explained that he was in fact contracted by the Donald Ramotar administration “to write and publish a book on the Rodney Commission’s findings, to produce a documentary on the content of the Commissioner’s report, to archive online the voluminous amount of documents and testimonies the Commission gathered, and to publicize internationally the findings of the Commission’s hearings.”
Samaroo said his stories that appeared in the state-owned Guyana Chronicle were done free of charge although he admits that “I was contracted for a specific purpose, and it had nothing to do with reporting in the State media.”
“I contributed several reports to the Guyana Chronicle on the work of the Commission pro bono, never once receiving any payment for that work. I also contributed dozens of columns to the Guyana Chronicle without compensation of any sort. I did this because I was concerned at the sorry state of Guyana’s State media, and wanted to play a role in lifting the standard of Journalism, and to contribute my writing to the national stage.”
He said the contract he signed with the Office of the President under the former President had absolutely nothing to do with the State media.
“Nowhere in the contract document is the State media ever mentioned” he claimed, although not saying who signed the contract on behalf of the Guyana government and whether the need for such services was ever publicly advertised by the former administration.
He released the terms of his contract with the former government and said the government did not fulfill all of its responsibilities and left office owing him money.
“My services were contracted mainly to write and publish a book on the Commission’s findings, write a script and produce a documentary on the Commission’s findings, and ensure that the full records and documents are made public through the Commission’s work being archived online for posterity.”
He did not indicate when the new book or documentary will be published or made public.