AG encourages whistle-blowers to come forward

first_imgAlmost 9 months later…despite implementation setbacksAlmost nine months after the National Assembly passed the Protect Disclosures (Whistle-blower) Bill, the 32 clauses in the seven-part statute are not fully operational. Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams at a recent engagement told reporters that a lack of money and requisite resources are responsible for the delay.“A lot of those legislation requires millions of dollars to implement; a lot of structure have to be erected and a lot of people have to be put in place; it goes hand in glove like witness protection because you have to move people around and a lot of people would have to be moved out of Guyana to different places. These matters require the attention of the Minister of Finance and availability of finances,” Williams suggested.Nevertheless, he encourages persons with key information on corrupt practices to come forward and make disclosures regarding what they know, claiming that there are already guaranteed protections.“They could blow the whistle, they have normal protection under the law; anyone who wants to come forward, feel free and blow the whistle”.Williams was however, probed further whether or not the Whistle-blower law would just be another legal document without much weight. In response, the AG who also functions as Legal Affairs Minister, sought to shift blame to his predecessor, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall for the current shortcomings in finances.“$30 billion to payments in one sector; heavy judgements in court by Nandlall and the [People’s Progressive Party] PPP; $7.7 billion already paid Rudisa is like mini budget in itself; all the talk he’s talking, he has the Guyanese people very tight… We inherited severe debt and the fiscal window is very narrow,” the current AG declared.He is hopeful that the money could become available to operationalise the law very shortly, premised on the earnings of the incoming oil and gas sector, with the various finds oil giant ExxonMobil has announced. Williams said also that the law will aid in Guyana fighting corrupt practices.“It must be activated; it’s very important in anti-corruption; money is not in a backyard to take it off trees,” he noted.Despite the assurances that Williams has given, many may still be hesitant to come forward with their information for fear of being targeted or victimised without the law being fully enforced.In the last week of April 2017, Sherlyn Marks, a nurse, was transferred with immediate effect after she made complaints against Carol Joseph, a former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Councillor in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice).The nurse was initially attached to the Fort Wellington Hospital but was sent to the Bath/Experiment Health Centre. The nurse claimed that the former Councillor had been going to the hospital for an excessive daily dose of the painkiller pethidine. Nurse Marks, who said she filed complaints twice last year, claimed she refused to administer the 100-millilitre dose to the official, who would turn up on a daily basis.She said she received a letter of transfer from the regional office after being scolded for going to the media with her complaints. Councillor Joseph later resigned from her post and the party. The Public Disclosures Law allows for complaints to be made up to 12 years prior to the enactment of the legislation.last_img

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