A request by Opposition Member of Parliament Ganesh Mahipaul for information on the renumeration packages being offered to the Members of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the 2020 Elections, was shot down by the Commissioner of Information Charles Ramson, who made it known that his office is not a “One-Stop- Shop.”
In a letter to the Opposition MP, the Commissioner of Information explained that the information must first be sought from the Office of the President.
“Firstly, the Access to Information Act 2011 contemplates that this Office is designed as a “Clearing House,” not a “Warehouse” or, in Guyanese investment jargon, “One-Stop Shop.” “Public Authorities” as defined by s.2 thereof includes the Office of the President, and therefore, you are required to ascertain the requisite information therefrom,” Mr Ramson explained.
He said should that request be denied or the response provided deemed unsatisfactory, only then should his Office be approached.
“Should you be denied it or are dissatisfied with their response on grounds inconsistent with the aforesaid Act, you may be entitled to secure the assistance of this Office, free of charge,” he explained.
Chairman of the Presidential COI Retired Justice of Appeal, Stanley John, and Commissioners, Carl Singh, a former Chancellor (ag) of the Judiciary, and Godfrey P. Smith SC, former Attorney General and Acting Justice of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean, were appointed on September 13, however, their salaries and benefits have not been made public.
In his letter to the Commission of Information, MP Mahipaul also sought information on the salaries and benefits of Dr Afari Gyan and Dr Nasim Zaidi, who were assigned to assist the Commission.
On Friday, he told News Source that the response by the Commissioner of Information was “unfortunate,” and that he will be seeking legal guidance on the matter.
“It is most unfortunate that the Commissioner of Information who receives a ‘fat cat’ salary would pen such a response to a request which should be facilitated by his office. One can only conclude that tax payers money is being wasted on that office,” the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) MP said.
With his request denied, the Opposition MP said he is now left to believe that more than half a billion is being spent on the Commissioners and their assistants.
“I am now forced to believe that indeed $700M of taxpayers money will be spent on salaries and benefits for the five persons over a 6 months period as was told to me by a source from Office of the President,” he said.
The Parliamentarian questioned the secrecy behind the COI and the renumeration packages being offered to the high-level Commissioners.