…Prime Minister, Dr. Luncheon silent
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, yesterday committed to having the Government Information Agency (GINA), disseminate the names of all of the directors of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) but up to press time, this was not forthcoming.
What GINA did in fact disseminate was a statement by Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, that “the GEA is being run reasonably well.”
Hinds said, too, that there has not been any, and there is no intention to keep secret the names of the members of any Board. “Indeed, our HPS (Dr. Luncheon) reads out those names at his regular post-Cabinet meeting press briefings.”
This however did not obtain yesterday when Dr. Luncheon was asked specifically to name the directors of the GEA.
He said that he could not recall the names and that GINA would make the names available.
Responding to the fact that it is only this year that the GEA submitted its annual reports, 13 years after its formation, Dr. Luncheon said that this does not necessarily mean that the agency had not been doing any work during that time.
“The fact that 12 years of reports are available suggests that these people have not been slacking…They have been abiding, maybe not 100 per cent in completing their statutory responsibility,” said Dr. Luncheon.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hinds in his response to two previous articles published this week in relation to the GEA said that they have little substance, much conjecture and suggestions, and seem intended to create confusion and illusions of corruption.
He said that as Minister responsible for the operations of the Electricity and Energy Sector, “I sense a need and a duty to set the record straight, dispel any erroneous concerns and doubts, and assure the majority of our Guyanese people, as well as others, that the GEA is being run reasonably well, as well as any other corporate body in Guyana, whether publicly or privately-owned, in the context of Guyana today.”
The Prime Minister conceded, however, that the GEA was many years late in beginning to have reports for tabling in the National Assembly.
He said that the GEA is currently in possession of its Audited Accounts and reports up to 2012 audited by the Audit Office of Guyana.
This, he said, would be tabled in the National Assembly soon after sittings are resumed in October.
He said further, that as of now, GEA is in compliance with all of the relevant reporting requirements, which include the Companies Act of Guyana and the International Financial Reporting Standards.
Hard to Believe
Financial Analyst, Christopher Ram, who had highlighted the questionable accounting practices and late reporting of the GEA, in an invited comment yesterday on assertions made by Hinds, said, “Prime Minister has ministerial responsibility for energy and must know that the Guyana Energy Agency is governed by its own Act and not the Companies Act…GEA is a statutory body, not a company.”
Ram said that he “still finds it hard to believe that Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, could write such a letter.”
According to Ram “I am a bit more understanding of his lack of knowledge about International Financial Reporting Standards particularly since he is no worse off than the Auditor General, Deodat Sharma.”
Prime Minister Hinds did make reference to the GEA Act to point out that the legislation only requires that the Audited Financial Statement be tabled as against the need for an Annual Report.
He said that the GEA Act further prescribes, “that the Minister determines what level of details any other report accompanying same should include.”
Regarding the fuel imports transaction by the GEA, Hinds said that since the 1980s, much consideration has been given to the question regarding the role of the agency in the arrangements by which Guyana has been acquiring all of its petroleum fuel.
This, he said, was done, taking into account the role of GEA’s predecessor, the Guyana Natural Resources Agency (GNRA): whether as trader, in principal, or as an agent.
According to Hinds, the Auditors, at that time, recommended the treatment and presentation, which is reflected in the Annual Financial Reports.
Hinds reported that the GEA accepted and complied with that ruling, and has had the impression that whilst other Auditors might have required that these transactions be represented differently, either way is acceptable.
This method of accounting practised by the GEA, had been a bone of contention raised by Ram in his analysis over the handling of over US$350M in fuel transactions under the PetroCaribe arrangement with Venezuela.
The financial analyst yesterday explained that the GEA’s role in the importation and distribution of oil under the PetroCaribe Agreement is as an agent of the Government of Guyana. “Accordingly, the GEA cannot treat the value of the oil imported and sold on behalf of the Government as its income…The money belongs to the State.”
He said that to compound “the accounting abomination, the GEA shows the cost of the oil as Office and Administration Cost in its accounts!”
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