Sep 24, 2017 News
It has been well over a year, and the transactional audit into the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) is yet to be completed by the Audit Office. Heading the office is Deodat Sharma.
It was the coalition administration which passed on the instruction for the Audit Office to conduct the transactional audit. But when asked for an update recently, the Government seemed to not be in the know.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, asked whether the government has received an update on the matter, said, “The Audit office is an independent body and the Auditor General will make his own determination and statement at whatever time he considers to be necessary. As a government we cannot tell the Auditor General how he is to do his work and when he is to release his information.”
The transactional audit by the AG’s office was as a result of the damning findings stemming from a forensic audit into NICIL by Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran.
During the forensic audit, Goolsarran discovered that in relation to the expenditure on the 2007 Cricket World Cup, NICIL had transferred amounts totaling $650 million to the Local Organizing Committee, but failed in its responsibility of ensuring that there was proper accountability for the amounts transferred.
As regards the construction of the controversial 44 High Street property, formerly home to the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation, the forensic auditor found that the contract was awarded in 2007, but at the time of reporting, the building remained substantially incomplete.
Goolsarran stated in his report that the building was abandoned, and the structure was expected to be torn down because the floors were not constructed to the required specifications. As the “Project Executing Unit,” he said that NICIL’s role was to ensure that the works were executed according to the agreed specifications, and the entity had again failed to discharge its responsibility for this project, resulting in some $350 million of taxpayers’ funds being wasted.
Goolsarran, in his report, also stated that despite the size and complexity of its operations, NICIL does not have its own procurement rules, which is a key requirement of the Procurement Act. In the circumstances, he said that it would have been more appropriate for NICIL to involve the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) in the assessment of tenders received for the award of contracts. Instead, the assessment of bids was done internally and would have lacked the level of independence, especially for large projects such as the Marriott Hotel.
Given the aforementioned findings among others, Goolsarran recommended that Government commission a further independent audit to examine in detail transactions over the last six years under NICIL.
He also recommended that the relevant authorities institute criminal/disciplinary actions against all those responsible for other violations, including the failure to properly account for State resources under their control.
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