A rather bizarre situation was discovered by forensic auditors attached to Nizam Ali and Company when they launched an investigation into the Old Age Pension Fund. The Scheme was riddled with strange discrepancies.
The auditors noted that in one instance, the formerly named Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security was paying pension to 27 ‘ghosts’. The auditors first noted this weird occurrence when they found that pension books were uplifted by 27 persons who were not even eligible pensioners.
When the auditors attempted to confirm the existence of these persons by contacting them, attempts were unsuccessful. The auditors said that no evidence exists to support the existence of these persons. As such, the auditors were unable to say who the individuals that collected the pension were.
The auditors made it clear that the application and approval process for this system involves a few clear cut steps. The forensic auditors said that the laws stipulate that applicants must attain the age of 65 years.
It was also noted that a completed application form is supposed to be signed by the pensioner in the presence of Chief Welfare Officer with a copy of his identification card/passport attached.
The auditors said that applicants are then interviewed by the social worker and the application is then forwarded for approval by the Chief Probation Officer which is done within six weeks.
For applicants beyond the age of 67, the auditors said that the respective Ministry assesses whether the applicant has fulfilled the requirement of being domiciled in Guyana two years preceding the application.
They said that this is done through an examination of the applicant’s travel documents to determine any period of absence; local knowledge of residence and information from Immigration Office.
Subsequent to the approval of the application, the auditors said that the pensioner would commence receiving pension the following month. The auditors made it clear that steps should be taken to strengthen protocols in this regard.
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