Jan 03, 2017 News
-accuse senior official of abusing, wasting hundreds of $$millions
Calls are being made for a forensic audit into the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST)
with accusations of abuse of resources and funds being leveled against a top official.
The organization, based in the University of Guyana, is tasked with developing technologies for local use.
However, despite hundreds of millions of dollars being plugged into the entity over the last decade, very little success has been seen, it is being claimed.
In recent months, there has been a number of scathing letters appearing in Kaieteur News and other media, regarding the operations of IAST and its current Director, Professor Suresh Narine.
A number of internal documents handed over to Kaieteur News by whistleblowers in IAST – also complaining about the situation – indicated that President David Granger was written to last May.
Details of spending indicate that accounts have been manipulated to cover-up what appeared to be many trails of wrongdoing.
For several weeks now, Kaieteur News has been attempting to meet with Professor Narine, who happens to be a lecturer at Trent University, Canada, and a senior official at CGX Resources, an oil exploration company that has concessions in Guyana, but to no avail.
According to documents, IAST between 2009 and 2014 was granted almost $500M to do research on various projects.
One allocation had to do with a $100M project relating to Coconut-Derived High Value Chemicals. Four years later, critical equipment for this project has not been completely installed and work has not commenced.
It was alleged that in 2009, nearly $29M was spent on an “old” rubber recycle plant purchased from a friend of a senior IAST official. The plant was repainted and placed into operations for a short while. The plant was supposed to cut old tires to produce asphalt using a mobile plant costing in excess of $24M.
The asphalt was supposed to be used to cover nearly 1,500 plates on the Demerara Harbour Bridge. However, after 300 plates, the equipment was left idle with the old tire mincing machine unable to compensate for the fuel it was consuming.
In 2010, it was alleged that $70M was spent on establishing a Rainforest Bio-Prospecting research laboratory. Six years on, it is unclear what happened to this project.
In 2014, the spending continued. Some $50M was allocated to research alternatives to mercury in the gold recovery process.
Instead, some of the money totaling $14.5M was reportedly used to buy a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and a Nissan Xtrail for the use by two senior IAST officials.
Some five years ago, it was alleged that CGX and IAST agreed to construct a Hall of Residence for $50M. A sod-turning exercise was held at IAST compound, Turkeyen, and monies were deposited in a bank account. This project is at a standstill.
According to the leaked documents, there are many instances of spending for personal reasons but these were registered in IAST accounts as routine business.
It is alleged, also, that Prof. Narine, while a full-time employee of a Canadian University, collects an honorarium of more than $600,000 tax free monthly for being the director of IAST. He shares his time between the Trent University and Guyana.
President Granger was written to and told that IAST was made to authorize at least 12 first class plane tickets from Canada to Guyana annually from 2005 to the present; these plane tickets are not part of the conditions of employment of Professor Narine, but were recorded under the budget line item “Overseas Conferences and Official Visits”.
While his contract mentions a government housing allowance which normally amounts to no more than $30,000, IAST has been paying Narine $242,000 monthly, from 2006 to the present.
As a matter of fact, IAST paid him $242,000 monthly for about eight months in 2015during time his house at Herstelling, East Bank Demerara was completely dismantled and rebuilt. He was, during these months, reportedly living in the CGX building, in the city.
Kaieteur News saw documents in which it was alleged that a senior IAST official even paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for vacation trips with family members to Annai and Paramakatoi and these were recorded as research work in the accounts.
Since taking office in May 2015, the Coalition Government has launched several forensic audits into the operations of state entities.
A number of the reports have been referred to the police for further investigations against a number of government officials.
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