APNU/AFC spent $290M from lotto fund on 2020 Jubilee
…$88.2M for flag raising; $50M for Carnival, Buju Banton concert
File photo: PNCR General Secretary Amna Ally distributing tickets for the Buju Banton concert in 2019
The 2019 Auditor General report has revealed that the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government spent some $290 million from the lotto fund on Guyana’s 2020 Golden Jubilee, among other things.
According to the report, $600 million was budgeted for funds from the lotto fund under the category of miscellaneous revenue. However, the former Government only transferred $32.5 million to the Consolidated Fund. The rest was spent on a number of activities.
For instance, $290 million was spent on cultural activities related to the Golden Jubilee, which was held in February 2020 and featured a number of competitions and even commemorative pieces.
Further, $150 million was spent to rehabilitate grounds and recreational parks, while $88.2 million was spent on the flag-raising ceremony back in 2019. The former Government also spent $49.4 million to send Guyana’s delegation to Carifesta XIV in Trinidad and Tobago in 2019.
Meanwhile, $27.8 million was spent hosting the emancipation celebration activities. The AG revealed that a further $50 million was spent supporting the Guyana Carnival 2019 and for the Buju Banton “Long Walk to Freedom” concert.
In 2019, then Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had lambasted the former Government for purchasing $40 million worth in tickets for the upcoming Buju Banton show, with hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars.
Jagdeo had revealed that the money was used to purchase 8000 tickets for the show which was held at the Guyana National Stadium and which were then handed out to the people. The cost of each ticket was $5000.
At the time, then Social Protection Minister Amna Ally had denied that Government monies were used to purchase the tickets. According to Ally, the monies were not taken from the public coffers but were, in fact, People’s National Congress (PNC) money.
The AG also found that $45 million was used from the fund to purchase equipment and do infrastructural work for the Linden Broadcasting Network, as well as $11.4 million for sponsoring Guyana’s senior football team to participate in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2019.
The former APNU/AFC Government has previously been red-flagged for its use of the lotto fund. In his 2015 report, the Auditor General had said that Government used millions from the fund for the building of the controversial D’Urban Park, Georgetown, without parliamentary approval.
According to Sharma’s findings, the Guyana Government was using the 24 per cent of the lottery proceeds it was earning to spend with Cabinet approval. Sharma, in his report, noted that at the beginning of 2015, that account held some $1.4 billion and it received an additional $421 million in 2015.
The Auditor General had said that following checks on the accounts, it was found that while Government transferred $1 billion of that money to the Consolidated Fund In 2015, it held on to just over half a billion dollars to remain under the control of the Ministry of the Presidency and it spent $305 million on various activities.
According to a breakdown of the expenditure provided by the Auditor General, $36.5 million went towards the rehabilitation of the controversial D’Urban Park; $63.7 million went towards Mashramani celebrations while another $51 million was utilised for “music”.