– Auditor General advises
A Government deal earlier this year to rent a Sussex Street property for use as a drug bond is refusing to
go away. Joining calls for the deal to be rescinded is the country’s Auditor General, Deodat Sharma.
Yesterday, when asked about the transaction which led to Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, apologizing last week for misleading the National Assembly, Sharma said that based on the information available, he believes that Government would be correct in ending the arrangement.
“From the initial observations, the agreement appears to have some pitfalls. The location is but one of the concerns and of course, we have noted the points of the justifications used for the transaction. I believe that there is enough for Government to seriously consider rescinding this deal.”
Asked if the matter will be red-flagged when the time comes for this year’s audits to be conducted, the Auditor General made it clear that the regulations spell out how this and other similar transactions are treated by his office.
The main role of the Auditor General is to audit the accounts of all public agencies, including ministries and other government bodies to ensure that all monies are spent responsibly and for the purposes intended, the entity’s website says.
In particular, the Auditor General checks whether the monies allocated to various government bodies have been used economically (spending less); efficiently (spending well) and effectively (spending wisely).
In essence, the Audit Office is responsible for taxpayers’ money being used in a responsible and economical manner and for the purposes intended; and that Government bodies conduct their operations in a manner that is acceptable to the Parliament and people of Guyana.
The drug bond issue came to public’s knowledge early last month while Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, was being questioned in the National Assembly by the Opposition about spending.
It came out that Government doled out $25M in a deposit for a Sussex Street property to store pharmaceuticals for the Government. The monthly rent would be $12.5M. There were no advertisements.
The property belonged to Linden Holdings Inc., a company linked to businessman, Lawrence ‘Larry’ Singh. The property was reportedly brought for $25M by the company.
Norton justified the rental of the property saying that New GPC, a drug supplier, was demanding too much in rental to store pharmaceuticals that belong to Government.
However, New GPC insisted that it was not charging any rentals.
The minister found himself in hot water for those misleading statements with the Opposition immediately asking for his resignation.
President David Granger a few days later ordered an investigation with a Cabinet sub-committee appointed to conduct the investigations. The three-man sub-committee was headed by Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman and included Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan.
The sub-committee recommended that Norton apologize to the nation.
However, because it was a done deal, the sub-committee did not recommend it be scrapped altogether.
A key USAID report had indicated that a drug bond it had built for Government in Diamond, East Bank Demerara, a few years ago, had more than enough space to store several months supplies of pharmaceuticals for the country.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo came under fire recently for saying that the risk of fire was one of the main reasons for renting the Sussex Street bond.
The problem was that the deposit of $25M was paid even before the Sussex Street building was ready for occupation as a drug bond.
Jul 12, 2020Led by 15 games from Sandra Nurse and 14 games Samantha Vickery, Turning Point emerged victorious with 80 games when the final of the Pre Caricom day dominoes tournament was contested recently at R...
Jul 12, 2020
Jul 12, 2020
Jul 12, 2020
Jul 12, 2020
Jul 11, 2020
Many moons ago, I was in the mini-mart of the Shell gas station at Ogle. I honestly don’t know what happened. There are... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Governments around the world, including in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, have emerged as... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]