Mar 03, 2016 News
– Junior Finance Minister
Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma says that while he understands that the public may be impatient, he
is asking them to just wait a little bit longer. Government is expected to release numerous forensic audit reports in a matter of two weeks, he said.
He promised that it will not be a second longer than this deadline.
Only four of the 50 forensic audit reports launched by Government have been released. These are the reports on the Marriott Hotel, the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Carifesta X 2008 and the acquisition of the water cannon by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Sharma said, yesterday, that most of the reports are complete but are under review as the respective entities must have a chance to respond to some of the damning findings uncovered by the forensic auditors.
Some of the firms contracted to conduct the forensic audits included Nigel Hinds Financial Service, Ram and Mc Rae and HLB Seebarran and Co. Chartered Accountant Anand Goolsarran along with Harryman Parmesar were also contracted to conduct several forensic audits.
Nigel Hinds Financial Service earned some $25M for auditing agencies such as the Guyana Oil Company Limited (Guyoil), the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) and the Guyana Office for Investment (GoInvest).
Ram and McRae bagged some $20M for auditing the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Guyana Gold Board and the E-Governance Project among others.
Sharma said that Cabinet is working at a considerable pace as it is looking into at least one report at almost every meeting. The Junior Finance Minister was reluctant to say how many reports will be released and in what order. He said that this is a decision that will have to be made by the Cabinet members.
Sharma insisted that the reports must receive Cabinet’s blessings before being released.
It was in May that the Granger-led administration began expending some $133M of taxpayers’ dollars on 45 of the 50 forensic audits to ascertain how the assets of the state were sold, disposed of or transferred under the previous administration. The remaining five audits were sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Several audits were also launched in July while others started in later weeks. While the report on NICIL has been completed for months now with criminal proceedings still to take shape, 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 a press conference which was held 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 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 said 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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