May 24, 2016 News
Following the recent revelations in the forensic audit report into the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC), stakeholders are expressing concern that the man who presided over that entity, now heads another.
According to the Rice Producers Association- Action Committee (RPA-AC), it is “frightening” to think that Nizam Hassan, once the General Manager of New GMC, is now the interim General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).
“Mr. Hassan’s (purported) actions at the New Marketing Corporation (reflect) are a pattern of behaviour (which) has caused the rice industry to be on the verge of collapsing following the contracts that were signed for sale of rice to Jamaica.”
This is a reference to two agreements which were signed between GRDB, the Jamaica Rice Milling Company Limited and Musson (Jamaica) Limited. Both companies had agreed to import a total of 80,000 tonnes of rice from Guyana this year.
In the face of withering criticism –members of the board protested about not being consulted before the contract was signed- management had contended that its agreement with the two Jamaican companies would organize rice supplies to Jamaica and prevent under pricing.
Co- Chairman of the RPA-AC Jinnah Rahman made it clear that the magnitude of the allegations made it necessary for measures to be taken in order to avert a miscarriage of the probe and possibly justice.
“It is highly improper for a government, having commissioned an expensive forensic audit paid for by taxpayers, not to at least suspend (principals),” Rahman stated.
The forensic audit conducted into the operations at the GMC from January 2012 to May 2015 had revealed troubling findings, including the fact that millions of dollars in unauthorized payments were made from the GMC fertilizer account to other agencies.
According to the auditor, Saykar A. Boodhoo, the entire fertilizer programme appeared to have been formulated to dodge financial accountability laws and to provide funding to multiple agencies, in a manner similar to how a slush fund operates.
The auditor also reported that then GMC General Manager, Nizam Hassan, had refused to provide the auditor with certain information, thus hampering him from properly auditing the fertilizer programme transactions.
“My conclusion is that the accounting practice at GMC shows that the General Manager and the Accountant did not provide any meaningful fiduciary responsibility when any payment originated from the Minister of Agriculture or the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture.”
“GMC’s General Manager and the Accountant acted more like rubber stamps when payments dealt with transactions originating from the Ministry of Agriculture.”
Since being commissioned last year, forensic audits into state agencies have cost over $133M. They have so far unearthed a magnitude of offences and irregularities, with some including the New GMC audit actually recommending that the police intervene.
A number of officials including at the Guyana Oil Company; the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and at the Guyana Water Inc. have been sent home with their contracts terminated or not renewed.
There have been cases where officials like Winston Brassington of the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) and Aeshwar Deonarine of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), have actually left the country following unsavory revelations within their agencies.
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