May 28, 2017 News
After spending more than $133M on a number of planned forensic audits, the APNU+AFC government has completed a number of forensic audits.
Junior Minister of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma, said that five audits were recently completed and are awaiting the perusal and discussion by Cabinet before they are released or necessary actions taken.
Most recently, Sharma handed over six additional audits to the police for the attention of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) who have already been given 19 such audits to investigate.
Sharma said that the audits of these entities were necessary since there was no parliamentary oversight of the budgets of these entities. It was for this reason that Sharma believes that the monies expended was for the greater good.
He said that with the completion of the audits, Government is now in a better position to pronounce on the financial health of these agencies. The minister said that contrary to what has been peddled in the media and elsewhere, the audits were never intended to lock up anyone.
Rather, it is the government’s intention to have a ‘stock taking’ exercise done in the form of the audits so that necessary steps can be taken if shortcomings or loopholes are identified.
The junior minister said that the agencies that were audited are those whose budgets are not scrutinized by the National Assembly. He said these agencies in the past only presented an annual report which many times were lacking in specifics that will allow for proper financial monitoring.
On what garners SOCU’s attention, Sharma said that it is a collaborative effort between his ministry and the Guyana Police Force. He said many times when audit reports are completed irregularities are not always glaringly evident but with careful study of the document, anomalies are identified.
On the most recent audits that were handed over to the police Sharma said that there were a number of questions to be answered about the purchase of the water cannon that was never used.
He said that of concern to him was the procurement process that was used to source the controversial piece of equipment. He explained although he has his concerns about that aspect of the purchase it is now left for security officials to determine if there was criminality involved in the purchase.
Moreover, Sharma explained that although the audits are not geared at incarcerating anyone, Government cannot turn a blind eye to any issue of misappropriation emerging from the audits.
He also said that with the completion of the audits the message is clear regarding Government’s seriousness to ensure that value for money is always achieved.
Just last week the Ministry of Finance handed over six additional forensic audits to SOCU. Those audits pertained to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS); National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA); Guyana Lotteries Commission; Scrap Metal Unit; Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) and the water cannon purchase.
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