Jan 11, 2009 News
By Gary Eleazar
There is dire need for the value for money audits of public expenditure in Guyana.
This is according to Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Member of Parliament and Executive member of the People’s National Congress Reform Volda Lawrence during the party’s first press briefing of 2009.
According to Lawrence, the public is continuously regaled with claims of the expenditure of massive sums of public money for infrastructural and other projects, “yet we are witnessing the rapid deterioration of our bridges, drainage systems, roads, among others.”
The PAC chairperson told media operatives that the latest examples are the sorry state of the Demerara Harbour Bridge and the claim that the Government has spent G$1.7B to prepare the drainage system for the current rainy season.
“All of this points to the importance of Public Oversight and Accountability.”
Lawrence added also that the non appointment of a substantive Auditor General and the non completion of arrangements for the autonomy of the Office of the Auditor General are all part of the scheme to avoid effective Oversight and Accountability to the people of Guyana, through the National Assembly.
“There is evidently the need to have an effectively and efficiently functioning Office of the Auditor General, equipped with the resources to undertake value-for-money audits of Public sector expenditure…The Guyanese people are yet to be presented with the audited accounts for the funds expended during the 2005 floods, the Cricket World Cup and Carifesta X.”
She added also that the President continues to behave as if “the public purse is his to dispose of as capriciously as he alone determines”.
This, she said, was evident from his refusal to have the Lotto funds placed in the Consolidated Fund and his practice of the extra-budgetary allocation of public funds as he deems fit.
The Audit Office of Guyana did in October benefit from a value for money audit workshop.
The Canadian Comprehensive Audit Foundation (CCAF) hosted the five-day workshop which included employees of the Auditor General’s Office as well as participants from Barbados, Argentina, Costa Rica and St Lucia.
According to Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, the diversity in the participants would have significantly enhanced the capacity of his staff, and will be reflected in the value-for-money audit that is slated for the current audit underway.
Twenty-eight staffers of the Audit Office were also last year engaged in a three-day capacity building workshop on quality assurance auditing.
That workshop was part of a US$600,000 IDB consultancy programme to strengthen the functioning of the Audit Office in Guyana.
The money was secured in 2007 when Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and then Resident Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Sergio Varas Olea, entered into a non-reimbursable technical co-operation agreement to finance the implementation of the Strategic Plan of the Audit Office of Guyana.
The US$600,000 grant would support previous activities which the Government undertook to strengthen and modernise the Audit Office, by improving its structure and operation through support to the implementation of critical activities of its Strategic Development Plan.
The Government had also previously sought to advance the modernisation and strengthening of the Audit Office, with the support of the IDB, through a non-reimbursable technical assistance contribution, which commenced in May 2003 and was considered the first phase of the process.
In the overview of his 2006 Auditor General Report, Sharma had stressed that there were a number of other issues that were still to be addressed with respect to improving procedures, practices and standards within the Office.
One such issue, he identified, was the implementation of a Performance Audit/Value for Money Section.
This, he said, is expected to be phased in over a three-year period with the formulation of a manual for the execution of VFM audits, the setting up of a VFM audit section that is adequately staffed, and the staff trained in the conduct of such audits.
He had noted, too, that another issue to be addressed was the establishment of a Forensic Unit with well-formulated procedures and staff trained to conduct forensic audits.
“In addition, the complete implementation of a Quality Review Section, with well-documented review procedures and appropriately qualified staff, will go along way in enhancing the review component of each audit, as well as contributing to consistent and appropriate reports being issued….
It is expected that additional funding in the form of another IDB grant can be secured to assist in the continued strengthening of the Audit Office, with the implementation of these vital aspects.”
Jagdeo will make ayo sell ayo bodies to feed ya’ll pickney.
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