By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Reports of forensic audits conducted into state agencies will no longer be made public.
This is according to Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma.
The Minister explained that the decision to no longer make public releases came on the heels of complaints from the Guyana Police Force, to the effect that the public disclosures of the wrongs committed by state officials put a strain on investigations.
He said, “The police found it better when (the reports) are not made public; they get better cooperation in terms of getting people to speak.”
Sharma made the disclosure as he spoke about recommendations in the audit reports that point to criminal proceedings. Sharma said that the government would like to give the police a better chance to carry out criminal investigations “so that justice can be given to the people of Guyana”.
Aside from recommendations for criminal proceedings, most audit reports contained numerous recommendations on how to better the agencies and companies. However, little is known about the implementation of these. Sharma said that the onus is on the various Boards to have the recommendations implemented.
“The audits were done to strengthen the entities, so the reports go to the boards, because there are some administrative things that need to be put into place.”
Sharma singled out the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest). He said that most changes being implemented by that Board are based on the recommendations contained in the report of the audit conducted into the agency. He then turned his attention to the audit into the Student Loan Scheme.
“Everything that was recommended for Student Loans was considered. The Ministry of Finance put all these things in place; like a new building and the regularization of the system to make sure money is paid, etc.”
It was in May 2015 that the Granger-led administration began expending some $133 million on 45 of the 50 forensic audits to ascertain how the assets of the state were sold, disposed of or transferred under the previous administration.
The remaining five audits were sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank.
Just about 30 forensic audit reports were released. They all pointed to severe deficiencies in the manner the monies of the state have been handled by the entities.
Some of the firms contracted to conduct the forensic audits included Nigel Hinds Financial Service, Ram and Mc Rae and HLB Seebarran and Co. Chartered Accountant Anand Goolsarran along with Harryman Parmesar were also contracted to conduct several forensic audits.
Nigel Hinds Financial Service audited agencies such as the Guyana Oil Company Limited, Guyana Energy Agency and GO-Invest.
Ram and McRae audited the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Guyana Gold Board and E-Governance Project among others.
Several audits were also launched in July 2015 while others started later that year.
Sharma had said that the revelations of some of the forensic audits vindicate the concerns the APNU+AFC had regarding the lack of accountability under the previous administration as well as the stench of corruption in some agencies.
With regard to the forensic audit launched into the Environmental Protection Agency, Sharma had said that it revealed that the entity had been holding some 15 accounts with over $400M.
Kaieteur News understands that recommendations were made for the monies to be transferred to the Consolidated Fund.
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