It did not take much for forensic auditors to realize that the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) cared not for the use of the Procurement Act of 2003.
Under the guidance of its former CEO, Keith Burrowes, the entity had its own style in conducting procurement-related transactions. It was a style, however, that was everything but transparent.
This was documented in a forensic audit report that was conducted by Nigel Hinds Financial Services (NHFS).
In their report, the forensic auditors said that based on investigations, the Procurement Act of 2003 was not followed or referenced. Instead, the auditors found that procurement decisions were made invariably without any Invitation for Bids or there were requests for three quotations for purchases above $250,000.
The auditors said that there were also cases where no quotes were requested and other purchases were sole sourced. Also troubling was the fact that the procurement policy used by GO-Invest was not documented.
The forensic auditors said that from all indications, it was clear that the Procurement Act 2003 was honoured more in the breach than in observance of the requirements of the Act.
Additionally, the forensic auditors said that the accounting policy of the agency is not properly documented as it relates to processing of payments, desktop procedures and internal controls. As a consequence, systems were not in place to accurately account for procurement transactions.
Pointing to some worrying instances of breaches of the Procurement Act, the auditors said that repairs and maintenance of vehicles were performed by mechanics who were sole sourced by the former CEO, Keith Burrowes, instead of being tendered.
They also cited that Burrowes as CEO expended over $1M on cell phones for senior staff, his personal driver and one Financial Consultant. The auditors stressed that Burrowes’ personal driver and the Financial Consultant were not employees of GO-Invest, and therefore not entitled to the said privileges.
Going forward, the auditors stressed that advances taken to procure materials for the entity should be timely and properly cleared. The forensic auditors said that only in exceptional circumstances should honour certificates be entertained.
They also said that there needs to be a clearly defined policy to manage outstanding procurement advances, especially to officers who are requesting additional procurement advances.
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