…fuel supplied to unserviceable vehicles, money spent on unused fridges
Some personnel in the Customs and Trade Administration within the Ministry of Finance are committing fraud. This has been revealed by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, and while in its report covering the years 2007 and 2008 it pointed to a number of practices throughout government that might be fraudulent, PAC zoomed in on those two sections of the Finance Ministry and stated that beyond a shadow of doubt there is dishonesty in the handling of public funds.
“The Auditor General reported that an examination of the process for requisition, collection, and distribution of the receipts at the Customs and Trade Administration was conducted and it was observed that there were no systems in place to monitor the process. This has led to fraudulent transactions,” PAC stated.
PAC Chairperson and Member of Parliament, Volda Lawrence, presented the report in the House on June 16, detailing public accounts of Guyana for the years 2007 and 2008.
The PAC report noted that the constitution defines public accounts of Guyana as all central and local government bodies and entities; all bodies and entities in which the State has controlling interest; and all projects funded by way of loans or grants by any foreign State or organization.
It is the duty of the PAC to examine accounts of these entities showing money granted to them by the National Assembly, and its use in meeting public expenditure. Information for review of many of these accounts is largely based on findings of the Auditor General.
In poring over reports on accounting for public money spent by Government entities PAC also highlighted a number of areas of probable fraudulent activity, but stopped short of labeling them fraud. The committee resorted to simply exposing the suspect incidents.
According to an Auditor General report examined by the Committee, officers within the Ministry of Local Government made unauthorized purchases of fuel totaling approximately $3,998 million. “The Committee noted that this situation occurred in 2006, 2007 and 2008and that nothing was being done to correct the situation.”
Fuel and lubricants recorded by the Region Six administration as having been received at various locations were less than what was stated on the invoice delivered by the supplier.
In the PAC findings, Region Ten records revealed that fuel was issued to 18 vehicles that were not owned or controlled by that administration.
Additionally, dieseline was issued to 13 vehicles that were exclusively using gasoline. Also in that region, a motor cycle that was unserviceable since 2006 received 200 litres of fuel between 2007 and 2008.
It was found that several diplomatic missions within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not remit their monthly revenue on a timely basis to the Consolidated Fund.
Citing another instance, the PAC observed that there were shortages of lubricants at the Crane Stores location in Region Three valued at $230,659.
In the case of the Guyana Elections Commission, PAC stated “It was noted by the Auditor General that the inquiry into the loss suffered by the Commission of approximately $1.845 million due to financial irregularities that were perpetrated during the year 2004 has not yet been finalized by the police.
The Head of budget agency [accountant] informed the Committee that based on internal principles he was restricted from making contact with contractors, hence was unable to ascertain the authenticity of the contractor before affixing his signature to the contract.
Refrigerators bought by the Ministry of Health were not used, “… however monies were expended for servicing them and procuring batteries even though they were within the warranty period”.
Regarding the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security the PAC reported the Auditor General stating, “… there was absence of supervisory controls regarding recording and issuing of the public assistance and old age pension books. The Committee expressed serious concern that such a situation could result in massive fraud”.
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