Nov 09, 2010 News
… AG Report 2009 highlights longstanding discrepancies
The Auditor General’s (AG) Report of 2008 highlighted the inability of the Ministry of Finance to handle its own finances. The 2009 report is no different. It points out that for yet another year the Ministry of Finance continues to flout sound operational procedures for accounting agencies.
By way of explanation the Ministry says, “… This matter continues to engage the attention of the Ministry as a matter of policy.”
The 2009 report highlights several issues that have appeared in the AG’s reports for a number of years and have been receiving the same answer from the Ministry.
Take for instance, Item No. 73 in the 2009 report where it states that during the review period, $414.310M was expended to meet operational costs for the State Planning Secretariat, Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), the National Procurement and Tender Board Administration (NPTAB), the Statistical Bureau and the Financial Intelligence Unit.
In the last six years, the AG reports have recorded that funds in excess of $3B have been dedicated to covering operational costs for these five agencies.
Yet according to the Auditor General, the State Planning Secretariat should have been dissolved several years ago. However, the Ministry of Finance continues to fund the operations of the Secretariat and pay the salaries of its staffers, several of whom are attached to other agencies and still receiving their emoluments from the Secretariat.
The Ministry does so despite the recommendations by the Public Accounts Committee for the Ministry to cease funding the agency and to provide financial statements for audit examinations. The Secretariat has also escaped the scrutiny of the AG for almost two decades having last been audited since 1991.
CANU is another bone of contention. According to the AG report, CANU is a department within the Ministry of Finance. Despite its mandate to protect Customs Revenues it does not operate under the direction of the Commissioner of the Customs and Trade Administration.
According to the AG, the arrangement “… does not provide for proper financial and administrative control, and is not in conformity with the applicable Customs Laws and Regulations.”
Outside of those issues the Ministry of Finance also funds CANU operations from subsidies and contributions to local organisations allowing the Ministry to circumvent the Government’s pay scales.
According to the AG’s report “…employees of this unit enjoy enhanced compensation packages, instead of the approved Government rates.”
Meanwhile, members of the Guyana Police Force are expected to undertake work of similar personal risk and dangers for Government-scaled salaries as dispensed to public servants.
The issue of the Ministry’s continued failure to pay over the Government’s share of the 24 per cent of revenues received from Guyana Lotteries to the Consolidated Fund as required by law continues to grab the attention of the Auditor General. This bone of contention has been around for years and according to the AG, from 1996 to 2009, the sum of $3.530B has been deposited into account No. 3119 instead of the Consolidated Fund and spent without parliamentary approval.
“Significant differences continued to be observed between the amounts shown as receipts in respect of external loans on the Statements of Receipts and Disbursements and those recorded in the Public Debt Statement,” the report also stated.
Startling among these figures are loans coming from the Inter-American Development Bank and Venezuela, of more than $12.8B and $6.9B respectively.
These are the figures on the Public Debt Statement. On the Revenue Statement, values of some $9.5B are recorded for the IDB and nothing for Venezuela.
The differences in amount between that stated and recorded as received are some $3.3B for the IDB and $6.9B for Venezuela.
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