It was in May that the Granger administration began expending some $133 M of taxpayers’ dollars on a series of forensic audits to ascertain how the assets of the state were sold, disposed of or transferred under the previous administration.
Now, some six months later, most of the completed reports on several agencies are yet to be read and handed over to Cabinet.
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan admitted that several reports have been completed but he has not yet gotten the opportunity to read the reports.
He noted too that no recommendation from the reports have been implemented as yet as they require Cabinet’s blessings.
Jordan was grilled by members of the opposition during the 2015 budget debates on the Forensic audits, the Terms of Reference implemented and the cost for each.
The Finance Minister had said that the forensic audits are costing government some $133M.
Several audits were launched in July while others started in later weeks. The report on NICIL has been completed for over a month, while those on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) have been completed for a longer period.
Most of the forensic audits have unearthed several hidden accounts with billions of dollars poised to be transferred to the Consolidated Fund by year end. Government stated that this phased transfer process has already started.
More importantly, the forensic audits in some cases have reportedly not only uncovered fraud and various forms of corruption, but investigators have also made several critical recommendations for the way forward on several agencies and sectors, all of which Cabinet is yet to see.
The Government was also recently blasted for failing to release the forensic audit reports in a timely manner to the public. Making this comment in particular was Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo during his most recent press conference which was held on Saturday at Freedom House.
“Government needs to release the reports now. Where are the audit reports? I thought they would have done one on the Specialty Hospital too. But they need to release the other audit reports on NICIL along with NICIL’s statements. There was supposed to be one on Hope Canal, the Marriott Hotel etc…they need to release these reports so that the people can comment on them.”
The only report released thus far is one on Carifesta X, which reveals that hundreds of millions were siphoned off from the account.
The forensic audit into the NFMU has unearthed some of the “most appalling acts of corruption”, said Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma, in a previous interview with Kaieteur News.
Commenting on the findings of the report, 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, and the agency just took no action against them.”
“(NFMU) could have collected a lot more revenue. Instead (the entity) allowed a lot of favouritism to take place and as such they lost, I would say, millions of dollars in revenue.
“They allowed their big 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, “The level of corruption which was taking place at the agency points to the incompetency of those who are managing it.”
The Junior Finance Minster had told this newspaper that the revelations of some of the forensic audits thus far vindicate the concerns the APNU+AFC had regarding the lack of accountability under the previous administration as well as the stench of corruption in some agencies.
As for the forensic audit launched into the EPA, Sharma who is in charge of the audits, revealed that this has been completed since August. He had said that the audit uncovered that the entity has been holding some 15 accounts with millions of dollars.
A reliable source revealed that the monies total over $400M.
Kaieteur News understands that recommendations were made for the monies to be transferred to the Consolidated Fund.
The Forensic audit revealed that the agency was apparently receiving monies from various agencies and opening a new account every time it received large sums.
Sharma explained that the agency should not have done that. He said that it should have held one account and categorized its expenses.
The Environmental Protection Agency was established on World Environment Day, June 5, 1996. It was on this date that the then Acting President of Guyana, Samuel Hinds, assented to Environmental Protection Act (No 11, 1996).
The Act mandates the Agency to oversee the effective management, conservation, protection and improvement of the environment.
It also requires that the Agency takes the necessary measures to ensure the prevention and control of pollution, assessment of the impact of economic development on the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources.
The Agency’s work enables Guyana to contribute to global and national environmental protection and conservation.
As part of its work the EPA implements education, regulation and enforcement programmes and uses partnership and collaborative approaches to strengthen the impact of its interventions.
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