Auditor General Deodat Sharma has been requested to conduct a forensic audit into the Parliament. Kaieteur News was reliably informed that this request was made by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs.
Speaking with this newspaper yesterday, Isaacs said that he felt it was the “right thing to do” since the Parliament received its financial independence last year.
The Clerk said that the House is all for transparency and accountability. He maintained that the forensic audit ought to be done as well.
“I believe we should start clean, given our independence, and the forensic audit being launched will also serve the boost the transparency and accountability required of the home of democracy,” Isaacs added.
It was in July, last, that a significant piece of legislation geared at allowing key bodies financial independence was passed in the National Assembly.
That legislation was the Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Bill 2015. The amendment passed, paved the way for lump sum payments to be made to Guyana’s constitutional agencies, free from the automatic obligations and the discretionary powers exercised by the Minister of Finance.
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan had explained that there are checks and balances in place to ensure that abuse does not take place, as annual reports and audited financial statements will be required to be prepared and presented.
Jordan made it clear that the bodies must enjoy fiscal autonomy so that they can serve the Guyanese people, and it would also prevent the executive from micro-managing the finances of budgetary agencies.
Under the previous arrangement, the bodies were at the mercy of the ministries, having to apply for simple things like monies to travel.
Jordan made it clear that the drawing of the monies for the bodies from the Consolidated Fund as a direct charge is not outside of the national budget, nor is it trampling on or fiddling with it. The new arrangements will serve to boost public confidence in the offices.
There have been accusations that the previous administration had used the budget dependency as a means to control the constitutional bodies.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, had noted that the proposed legislation, once implemented, will strike down provisions which sought to undermine the independence of those bodies. He added that an examination of the Bill in its previous state would find that it was ill-conceived, as Article 222 A of the Constitution was not respected.
Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma, in his presentation indicated that the Bill in its previous state contravened Article 8 of the Constitution, and he voiced his support for the legislation.
In addition to the Parliament, other constitutional bodies which no longer depend on the relevant subject ministers for money include the Public Service Commission, Police Service Commission, Office of the Ombudsman and the Guyana Elections Commission, among others. (Kiana Wilburg)
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