Oct 11, 2015 News
By Kiana Wilburg
Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma, has said that the “upsetting” findings of the forensic audit into the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) prove that “several fraudulent decisions opened up the Unit to abuse and horrible acts of corruption.”
He added that the audit reveals some of the “most appalling acts of corruption” in a statutory agency.
The Junior Finance Minister, who is in charge of the forensic audits, also pointed out that the level of corruption which was taking place at the agency “exposes” the incompetence and “lack of integrity” of those who are in charge. The Head of the Frequency Management Unit is Valmiki Singh.
Sharma had said that the “disturbing” findings of the report also prove that the mission statement is nothing but a “nicely-worded declaration to fool the people of this nation when all along, a set of wickedness was taking place.”
“In no uncertain terms, the things which occurred at the Frequency Unit point to some very disturbing acts of corruption. The report has to be sent back to the auditor for some minor clarifications in some areas. What went on at the agency is quite appalling and I don’t know which agency operates like this.”
“I really expected better from the Head of this Unit, Valmiki Singh, who earns around US$4,500 per month. All these things that happened under the Unit highlight a lack of professionalism, malfeasance in office and incompetence from him and those managing it. They occurred under his watch. It is unbelievable what they were getting away with under the PPP.”
Sharma had expressed his disgust after discovering that “almost 90 percent of the funds of the Frequency Management Unit dating back to 2012, were spent on two projects that had absolutely nothing to do with the agency.”
The report on the forensic audit which was conducted by Chartered Accountant Chris Ram, showed that in some cases, the hog of the Unit’s funds went to the PPP’s failed Fibre Optic Cable from Brazil and the One Lap Top per Family project. Sharma said that he found this to be “very strange and downright deceitful.”
The fibre optic cable which was started in 2011 was intended to bring another source of internet connectivity to Guyana. It should have been completed by 2013, but turned out to be a major embarrassment for the previous administration, after it faced delays due to damage and other technical issues.
It was part of a bigger initiative to advance Guyana’s e-governance drive and equip 90,000 poor families with laptops and link state agencies into a network.
The contract signed between Dr. Roger Luncheon and Faisal Mohamed for the repair of the cable from Brazil has been described as the most generous giveaway package, worse that the Sanata Complex in the run-up to the 2011 elections.
It also mirrored the giveaway of the radio frequencies done under the administration of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, during his last days.
Since the new administration took over, it ordered Dax to halt all its operations, bringing an end to the sweetheart deal the entity signed on to with the then PPP/C government.
The One Laptop Per Family and the E-Governance projects along with the Brazilian fibre optic cable initiative, reportedly cost taxpayers in excess of US$70M. Another fiber optic cable contained in a transmission cable laid by the Guyana Power and Light Inc. and stretching along the coast, reportedly pushed the finally tally well past the US$120M mark.
“It is unbelievable that (the NFMU) were hiding expenditure on these projects. It goes to show the kind of financial lawlessness that was allowed to take place at these agencies. I just don’t understand how monies could be spent on these two programmes which had nothing to do with the Frequency Management Unit from the beginning. The auditor has already made it clear that about $100M has to be recovered in this regard,” said the Junior Finance Minister.
Minister Sharma had said, “There was just no proper management at this unit. There were instances where you could see that they just lost out on millions of dollars worth in fees that they should have ensured they collected. There were some defaulters as well who the agency just took no action against.”
“They could have collected a lot more revenue but no. They allowed a lot of favouritism to take place and as such they lost, I would say, millions in revenue. They allowed their PPP boys to slip under the radar while others were called upon to pay their dues. In fact, they weren’t collecting from two of their PPP big boys for some time. It was a lot of unfairness that was going on at that agency.”
Sharma had said that the revelations of some of the forensic audits thus far vindicate the concerns the APNU+AFC had when it served in the opposition regarding the lack of accountability under the previous administration as well as the stench of corruption in some agencies.
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