Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, has been asked to investigate spending in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) after Regional Executive Officer, Rupert Hopkinson, attempted to mislead the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
During the PAC meeting on Monday, Hopkinson, who is a government appointee, was grilled about utilising funds from current expenditure to fund capital projects during 2017.
People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Member of Parliament and PAC Chair, Irfaan Ali, reminded Hopkinson that last year he was warned to desist from the practice as it is against procedures.
Hopkinson told the PAC that the practice has been corrected. Ali stuck to his line of questioning.
He then asked Hopkinson if he was sure that monies from current expenditure, which is used to pay salaries and routine expenses, were not being used to fund capital projects in the region.
Hopkinson then stated that he believes Ali is not going to see any current expenses being transferred to capital expenses, but yet he wasn’t so sure.
The REO then wavered further when questioned by Ali as to what the PAC should do if the AG finds that there was a recurrence of the practice in 2017.
According to the REO, the PAC should examine the particular case because sometimes there are emergencies.
“I’m not saying that happened,” Hopkinson stated.
Hopkinson then said that he could not recall.
Regional Engineer, Latchman Singh, then informed the PAC that the practice was still occurring based on the REO’s instructions.
“REO, you just said that this thing did not reoccur. Right in this same room, I am asking the engineer and he is saying upon your instruction this practice continued. You, the Engineer, are also aware of the policy. Are you participating in an illegal instruction?” Ali questioned.
Singh stated that the region’s works department just follows the instructions of the REO.
At this stage, Ali asked Sharma to dispatch a team to examine the records and compile a report for submission to the committee.
The PAC was scrutinising the finances of the Ministry of Communities and corresponding agencies.
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