Aug 22, 2008 News Comments Off on Failure to transfer Lotto funds is unashamed violation of constitution – Winston Murray
…just a technical issue – President
The non-transferral of 24 per cent of the money paid over to the government by the Guyana Lottery Company as the people’s share from lotteries over the period 1996 to 2006 is an open and unashamed violation of Article 216 of the Guyana Constitution, according to the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR).
Shadow Finance Minister, Winston Murray told a press briefing yesterday that, instead, the monies were deposited into a special bank account under the control of the Minister of Finance.
The Auditor General report has cited a figure of some $2.95B. According to Murray, none of the expenditure from this account has ever had the approval of the National Assembly of Guyana as a result.
“Between the President and the Minister of Finance, directions are given for the spending of the money.”
He did note that the Auditor General has reported that the projects on which these monies are spent are subject to audit. “The PNCR states unequivocally that such a procedure cannot be a substitute for upholding the requirements of the Constitution of Guyana.”
When questioned on the issue yesterday, President Bharrat Jagdeo said that it was always an
He emphasised that the Lotto funds were audited and it was not an issue of how it is spent, “but it is just a technical issue whether it should be transferred to the Consolidated Fund and then spent from the fund rather than being spent this way.”
He noted that what happens now is that what is needed for a project is transferred and then the project is done on that basis.
“If a project is $50M then we transfer that amount to the fund and the project is done on that basis.”
Jagdeo also noted that the financial laws of the country did allow for the setting up of funds outside of the Consolidated Fund. “It has always been a question of a technical issue rather than an accountability issue.”
When questioned as to whether there would be any amendments to avoid a recurrence, Jagdeo said, “I don’t think so.”
The Auditor General’s report of 2006 recommended to the Ministry of Finance that it take appropriate measures to close a bank account that currently holds the government’s 24 per cent proceeds of the Guyana Lotteries and ensure that it is paid over directly to the Consolidated Fund.
This, the Auditor General’s Report notes, would be in accordance with Section 21 (1) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, which states that all budget agency receipts shall be credited to the Consolidated Fund.
According to the Auditor General, previous reports have highlighted the Ministry’s failure to pay over the government’s share of 24 per cent of the proceeds of the Guyana Lotteries to the Consolidated Fund.
Instead, such proceeds are paid into a special bank account and are used to meet public expenditure, without Parliamentary approval.
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