The gross irregularities in the Annual Reports of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) for the years 2005 to 2012
which have escaped condemnation by the relevant oversight bodies not only highlight their weakness and lax nature, but bring their professionalism into question.
This was the general principle that headlined the comments provided by Anthony Vieira who serves as an agriculture consultant to A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). The sugar production expert was asked to give his take on the anomalies that have been identified in the annual reports of the GFC by several critics.
Chartered Accountant Chris Ram, Janette Bulkan, John Palmer and even other members of the opposition had given their take and in some cases provided a detailed analysis on the topic.
Vieira in an interview with this publication noted that he agreed implicitly with comments made by Ram.
Ram had said that the GFC is just another example of the perpetuation of former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s legacy of financial lawlessness, a state that is as wide as it is deep. He said that this state of affairs allows for the GFC’s “incomplete and deceptive” reports to be tabled and accepted by the National Assembly without any questions being asked or challenges posed.
The state of lawlessness that exists, is “one in which the parliamentary bodies are paralyzed by their own mediocrity. One in which we even have a mini-parallel Consolidated Fund called NICIL and where the evidence of slush funds everywhere mounts,” he added.
Ram asserted that the financial chaos created is one in which the national accounting body, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana, remains silent even as basic rules of accounting are violated with impunity.
In support of Ram’s statements, Vieira added that the irregularities in the Annual Reports reflect the weakness of the opposition and more particularly the lack of professionalism and awareness in the audit office
On the statement of the reports being a reflection of the executive lawlessness initiated by Jagdeo, and the fact that the Commission illegally paid over millions to the controversial NICIL, Vieira said that there is no question that the law has been violated in this matter. He said that this is so since all outstanding amounts from every government agency is supposed to be returned to the Consolidated Fund at the end of every year.
Vieira said that the GFC seems to have been putting the money in places where our laws forbid it to be placed, and this inexplicably continues to be ignored.
“How is it possible that a parliament which is controlled by the opposition accepted the annual reports of the forestry commission without question, despite gross irregularities almost on every page, it shows clearly that they are not paying attention,” Vieira asked.
Moreover, Bulkan and John Palmer in their published series made mention of other glaring discrepancies in the GFC’s annual reports, all of which were laid in the National Assembly in November 2013. They pointed to the consequences of continued high turnover of staff mentioned in the Commission’s reports. The duo stated the reasons for this are explained only in relation to junior staff, no counter-measures are suggested, and the effects on performance are not indicated.
At the recently concluded GFC press conference, officials told reporters that in terms of persons fired in the past, the agency has dismissed persons “for not fulfilling their obligations properly” but it would not be more than 5% of them.
The Annual Report for 2006 makes no mention of employment. However, the Annual Report for 2012 said that the attrition rate for 2012 was at 17% compared to 13% for 2011. The 2012 report also stated that there were 9 dismissals in 2009 and 12 in 2010. This clearly contradicts what the Commission stated at its recent press conference.
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