Last year, the Donald Ramotar Government allocated $1B when it launched a countrywide cleanup programme. The exercise – cleaning of drains and cemeteries and host of other initiatives, was heavily hyped.
But State auditors, examining the expenditure, found little evidence that all the monies were spent and that Guyana received value for the tax dollars.
Heading the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development at the time was Minister Norman Whittaker.
The Auditor General’s report of last year’s National spending flagged the programme which is now under investigation.
According to the recently tabled report of the Audit Office for 2014, the full sum was said to have been expended. However, auditors were hard-pressed to find evidence of where some of the monies went.
“…Despite repeated requests, all payment vouchers together with the requisite supporting documents were not presented for audit verification,” the Audit Office noted.
As a matter of fact, amounts totalling $345M were expended on the acquisition of tools and equipment including tractor and trailers, mini excavators and skid steer loader.
According to the records kept at the Ministry, the tools were issued to various community groups to carry out the exercise and should have been returned at the completion.
However, audit checks revealed that both used and new tools were stored in the same area with no means of distinguishing the new from used.
In addition, these items were not properly stored to enable a physical verification.
“Further, Goods Received Notes and Internal Stores Requisitions were not prepared for the receipt and issue of these items. In view of the foregoing, we could not have verified whether all the items were received, properly brought to account, and whether proper control was exercised over their use,” the Auditor Office said.
Also included in the sum of $345M was a payment of $1M for one flatbed trailer. However, auditors discovered a cheque dated December 8, 2014, payable to Massy Industries Guyana Ltd still on hand at the Ministry in June 2015. The cheque had become stale-dated.
According to records, another sum for $303.7M was transferred to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Collin Croal, for the clean-up exercises in various communities.
However, only 46 payment vouchers amounting to $160M were submitted for audit.
“In the circumstance it could not be determined whether all the monies were spent for the purposes intended. It should be noted that these payment vouchers were still on hand at the Ministry, instead of being cleared at the Ministry of Finance,” the report said.
Further, audit checks on the 46 payments vouchers revealed that the supporting documents lacked evidence that the works were verified as satisfactorily completed.
In eight instances, the amounts stated on the supporting documents differed from the amounts on the payment vouchers and in three instances, receipts attached to payment vouchers stated that the monies were paid by a private individual instead of the Ministry.
In addition, the payee and the signatory on these receipts were the one and same person.
According to reports generated by Government’s central accounting system, Integrated Financial Management and Accounting System (IFMAS), the sum of $74M was recorded as expended on purchase of bins, barrels and garbage bags, etc.
“In the absence of the goods received notes, Internal Stores Requisitions and details of the location of these items, it was impossible to verify their existence, the auditors said in the report.
According to the Account Analysis Report, the sum of $36.79M was expended on trucking services rendered for the transporting and disposing of waste during the clean-up exercise. “However, there was no evidence to indicate that these disposals were monitored by the Ministry. As a result, it could not be determined whether value was received for the amounts expended.”
Another sum, $16.56M was recorded as expended on clean-up exercise undertaken in rural areas.
However, the State auditors said that the requisite payment vouchers and supporting documents were not presented and the propriety of the expenditure could not be determined.
An amount totaling $1.555M was expended on the purchase of fuel for the clean-up exercise. However, the auditors said, the Ministry did not adhere to the stores accounting process as required by existing stores regulations, in that no entry was made in the requisite stores records.
Officials, shortly after the David Granger administration took office in May, said they found the ministry’s boardroom in Kingston to be filled with materials for the cleanup.
The new government has launched a number of forensic audits into Government agencies and projects run by the former PPP/C-led administration.
The ministry has now been renamed the Ministry of Communities, and now includes the Ministry of Housing and Water.
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