– AFC Ramjattan
The excuse given by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh that his ministry failed to implement two of the modules belonging to a foolproof accounting system because it is suited for a more “mature” environment, only proves one thing, and that is-—Government’s corrupt methods are indeed “very mature.”
This was the conclusion of the Leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, who told Kaieteur News that he feels vindicated by the retort of the developers of the Integrated Financial Management Accounting System (IFMAS).
Doug Hadden, Vice President of Sales of the Canadian company which develops the IFMAS, said that he is unaware of any case where a government bought the system and did not use all of the modules. He said that while Governments are treated with a sense of privacy, he would advise that all the modules be used.
Hadden had also said that in terms of environment, the IFMAS was designed for “the immature to the very mature”. “We have implemented this system in countries with a far less mature environment than Guyana has.”
The two modules that are not being used are the Purchasing Module and the Assets Inventory Module.
Though Dr. Singh contended that the two unimplemented modules are for a more mature environment, it is important to note that when Guyana got the IFMAS system, which was secured at a cost of $132M, it was specially tailored to suit the country’s needs.
Ramjattan in response to the recently published comments of the Vice President of Sales said, “Firstly, this justifies the assessment made by the AFC earlier that this Minister, (Dr. Singh) backed fully by members of his Cabinet, never wanted to be policed and scrutinized by this IFMAS system. They just wanted to fool the public that Guyana is on IFMAS mode, so as to make Guyanese think that they are transparent and accountable.”
Secondly, the lawyer said that the response by the IFMAS developers is “cogent and compelling evidence” of the nature of the “corrupt beast” that the PPP has become since Dr. Cheddi Jagan’s demise. “It’s now a full-fledged “kleptocratic” character.”
“Not to want the implementation of those two most important modules which were paid for and delivered to the Government, exhibits an operation akin to a Pablo Escobar running the Drug Enforcement Agency. Just like what Escobar would have done at the DEA, they have knocked out the intelligence system which could have caught them. And what logic do they use? That utter trash, almost a feral blast, that we are not a mature environment to implement those two modules…This Minister should honourably discharge himself from further public service by tendering his resignation forthwith,” Ramjattan firmly asserted.
Moreover, Hadden had said that when it comes to the management of taxpayers’ dollars, accountability is of absolute importance. He said that it has been proven that manual systems which are in place to ensure accountability can be flawed and beaten.
To help ensure transparency and liability, his company designed the computerized accounting system, IFMAS, which covers how taxpayers’ money is budgeted and spent by the government.
Hadden explained that the Purchasing module is important because it allows you to automate everything. He said that if, for example, a government wants to buy a computer for a ministry, it would have to budget for it. The IFMAS then issues a purchasing order and when you pay for the computer, you collect a receipt and that can be scanned into the IFMAS. So, there is absolutely no need to keep the physical receipt. This, he said, would defeat the purpose of having the system.
“The Assets module is very helpful for asset management. It is important because it helps the government to manage the value of state assets. It ensures that you don’t sell something for less than it is worth and it also helps governments to manage the assets to ensure the country is not being robbed.”
Hadded said too, that the modules provide better control over what was spent, how it was spent, who is assigned to the asset acquired and what has become of its value.
The Vice President also stated that “the IFMAS was not designed to be backed by a manual system but to replace it”.
Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran in response to this said that he agrees with Hadden’s comments. Goolsarran said that one cannot have an arrangement whereby the integrated system straddles both manual and electronic systems; otherwise “it ceases to be an integrated system.”
“Why in this day and age do we have manual systems for assets and inventories? A private sector company will not survive if it adopts this practice.”
The anti-corruption advocate also said that Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. had written to the Commissioner of Information requesting that a copy of the contract with the Canadian firm be made available. However, Goolsarran said that he received a “rude, arrogant and discourteous response,” a copy of which he sent to this publication.
While the Government of Guyana has refused to implement the other two modules, Hadden says that it may very well be the case that the modules were implemented in a manner that suits the “priorities of the government.”
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