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…stands with Patterson that his acceptance of gifts did not hinder his integrity
The Alliance for Change (AFC) has called for a re-examination of Ministerial gift-giving to outline clear policy guidelines even as the party put its confidence in former Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson that the gifts he received did not infringe in his integrity as a Minster.
Their statement, made on Thursday, comes as Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill has called on Patterson to resign from the post as Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chair after records revealed that $2.6M was spent on gifts from various agencies to him in just one year.
Patterson has stated that all gifts he accepted as Minister were not solicited by him and, on all occasions, he assumed that the gifts were in keeping with procurement guidelines.
In its statement, the AFC accused Minister Edghill of deliberately setting out to tarnish Patterson’s reputation to prevent the execution of his duties on the PAC and as a Member of Parliament (MP). The political party said that Patterson deserves an apology as Minister Edghill is photographed receiving gifts, images which have reportedly been removed from his Ministry website, while Minister of Education, Priya Mannickchand allegedly received a gold piece of jewellery from her staff.
“The AFC wishes to state categorically that it has full confidence in the integrity of Mr. Patterson and holds him as a person of great fortitude of character, who performed his duties as Minister of Public Infrastructure in the APNU+AFC Administration with the highest standards of public probity,” the AFC stated.
“The larger issue here might be that a complete re-examination of gifting with a view to establishing clearer policy guidelines on the issue of Ministerial gifts from Ministries, Agencies and Departments is needed to be done by the government.
This, we believe is required to ensure accountability and transparency, in contrast to Mr. Edghill’s rants, which have only served to generate disrespect instead of guidance on the matter which should be important to all Guyanese.”
Furthermore, the party pointed out that it is the Permanent Secretary in every Ministry that is responsible for its financial management, not Ministers. This aside, the AFC said that the information provided by Minister Edghill cannot be taken as factual as the former Minister, as he has stated in the past, has never received electronic gifts due to his particularity with his security.
Patterson has stated: “Whoever fabricated this lie obviously does not know that, for security and other reasons, I do not accept electronics of any kind from any agency, including the government, and I have always personally selected and purchased all electronic items I own. For instance, for this reason, I did not accept a mobile telephone offered by the Parliament to Ministers.”
The AFC said that it is disappointing that Minister Edghill would “stoop so low” to insinuate that Patterson was not able to furnish his own home until he got into Government.
The party stated: “As Minister of Public Infrastructure for the APNU+AFC coalition, Mr. Patterson earned for himself the reputation of getting the work done instead of providing excuses to the people for lack of performance. He brings this same insight and effectiveness to the PAC, which the Administration is desperately trying to side-line.”