Feb 29, 2016 News
Former Housing Minister, Irfaan Ali is refuting claims that he allowed the accounts of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) to be run on a manual system.
He went on to categorically state that CH&PA was never required to implement the Integrated Finance Management and Accounting System (IFMAS).
IFMAS was purchased some ten years ago by the former regime so that it could enhance the systems used to manage and properly account for billions of taxpayers’ moneys. IFMAS was intended to replace all manual systems of accounting by the State.
It was felt that the “pencil and paper” system of accounting allowed for too many loopholes for corrupt practices. IFMAS was essentially intended to be a tool for checkmating various forms of financial corruption with taxpayers’ moneys.
But after spending $132M to secure the Canadian system of accounting evidence seen by this newspaper shows that Ali was not making use of it.
In fact, he allowed the accounts system of the Central Housing and Planning Authority to operate in a “pencil and paper” manner.
This would appear to be rather suspicious to some persons given Ali’s respected background in finance. At one time, he even served in the Ministry of Finance and has on more than one occasion boasted of his knowledge in best practices in accounting.
Ali’s comments totally contradict statements from reliable Government sources which tell another story.
According to reliable sources, Board Members of the Central Housing and Planning Authority held recently, a meeting to address a number of matters, one of which includes the system of accounting at CH&PA. This entity operated as the main arm of what was formerly known as the Housing Ministry.
Members of the Board were disappointed in the fact that the accounting system for the Housing Authority was manual and hoped for provision to be made for the implementation of a structured computerized software package.
In response to this revelation, Ali told Kaieteur News yesterday that CH&PA is a semi-autonomous agency that operates its own independent accounting system.
He said that CH&PA utilized Acc Pac which he said is a computerized accounting system to maintain records of all allottees. He explained that the Acc Pac system is integrated with the Land Management System that allows for greater efficiency and accountability.
“The IFMAS accounting system was never intended to be an accounting solution for the CH&PA, as the Sunday article is falsely portraying.”
He said that it is a known fact that the CH&PA is a semi-autonomous agency that kept its own bank accounts, hence, its own accounting system.
CH&PA’s former Director of Finance, Taslim Baksh, has disappeared since the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections and the CEO Myrna Pitt never explained his absence to the new board.
Baksh was also charged with overseeing the operations of the Scrap Metal Unit, which was tasked with regulating the scrap metal trade.
In 2014, this newspaper reported that Government was wasting assets and was not doing enough to prevent fraud in the national accounting system. This came about because the Ministry of Finance failed to implement two of the seven modules it had acquired for the Integrated Financial Management Accounting System.
The two modules that are not being used are the Purchasing Module and the Assets Inventory Module.
A senior officer of the Canadian company that designed the IFMAS said that he is unaware of any case where a government bought the system and did not use all of the modules.
Doug Hadden, Vice President of Sales, said that while Governments are treated with a sense of privacy, he would advise that all the modules be used.
Asked whether the system was designed for mature or small environments, he said it 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.”
Hadden 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.
He said that at this point the system is designed exclusively for governments and is implemented throughout the world.
He said 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.
He stressed that all the modules are important and should be implemented.
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.”
Hadden reiterated, “The whole purpose of the IFMAS is to replace manual systems with automation for accountability and transparency.”
The current administration is in the process of evaluating how it is going to proceed with the IFMAS programme.
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