By Kiana Wilburg
Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, has completed his report on how the government expended citizens’ tax dollars for the year 2015.
In the interest of promoting good governance, transparency and public accountability, Sharma presented the said report to the Parliament yesterday. It was received by House speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland.
The report will remain under “lock and key” until it is officially laid in the National Assembly when the House returns from recess.
In the meantime, Sharma was able to confirm that his report, which usually captures a litany of financial irregularities, details a similar pattern of fiscal misgivings under the new administration. He confirmed that there are instances of overpayments as well as the continued abuse of the Contingency Fund.
Sharma told members of the media that he was honoured to be presenting his twelfth report on the annual audit of the Public Accounts of Guyana and on the Accounts of Ministries, Departments and Regions.
But more importantly, Sharma said he was proud to announce that this is the seventh consecutive report that is being presented by the statutory deadline of September 30.
The AG said that timely reporting is part of the Audit Office’s mission. He said that the office was able to achieve this goal through sheer dedication and hard work.
Sharma said, “I would like to thank my staff. They have been the pillars of our successes. I would also like to thank the staff of the Ministry of Finance, including the Accountant Generals Department as well as the Accounting Officers and staff of the various Ministries, Departments and Regions for responding to our audit findings in a timely manner.”
In addition to the submission of timely reports, Sharma noted that the Audit Office’s mission also includes the execution of high quality audits, and the provision of cost effective service by the implementation of the most up-to-date audit practices.
In this regard he said that the office utilised funding from an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) grant to commence the implementation of the Audit Management Software, TeamMate.
The AG said that this will assist immensely in ensuring high quality work is produced on a more consistent basis and in keeping with international standards.
Sharma said that the software will also see the automation of the Audit Office’s working papers files. He said that it will also lead to real time review of audit work where officers of the Audit Office could be sitting in Georgetown and review work being done in Essequibo.
He said that other benefits include the reduction of paper stored as well as the reduction in document retrieval time.
Through the continued support of the IDB, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Indian Government through the ITEC Programme, and the Government of Guyana, Sharma said that the Audit Office has been able to continue capacity building initiatives, with training delivered and planned in areas such as report writing; performance, procurement and Information Technology auditing; and Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigations.
“We have also revised our Strategic Development Plan, which will chart the way forward for the next three years. Without any reservations, I would like to thank the IDB, CIDA, the Governments of Guyana and India, as well as all other organisations who may have in one way or another, assisted us in the transition to a more effective National Audit Office,” expressed Sharma.
The AG noted that his 2015 report will be laid in the National Assembly by the House Speaker and will be duly examined by the Public Accounts Committee.
In this regard, the AG said that the Public Accounts Committee is up-to-date in their examination of the Auditor General’s Reports, having recently completed their examination of the 2014 report.
“And I am sure they are eagerly awaiting this one,” added Sharma.
The Auditor General also extended hearty congratulations to the Public Accounts Committee. Along this line, he sought to remind citizens that the sittings in relation to the examination of the Auditor General’s Reports are open to the public.
He stressed that it is an ideal forum for citizens to hear if their tax dollars were spent for the purpose or purposes for which they were intended, and in accordance with the required regulations, procedures and policies.
He also encouraged citizens to make use of the Audit office’s website at www.audit.org.gy so that they can be informed of the work of the Audit Office. The website can also be used to anonymously report any case of wrongdoing, Sharma said.
Additionally, Sharma noted that the Parliament Office’s website has been very helpful in confirming audited reports of Statutory Bodies laid in the National Assembly.
He appealed to the House Speaker in both parties working together to look at avenues to submit soft copies of the audited reports instead of hard copies to the National Assembly.
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