More than a dozen contractors and suppliers who were contracted by the Region Three Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) have not returned to collect payment despite repeated attempts by local officials.
Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday, Regional Executive Officer, Denis Jaikarran, admitted that 19 cheques totalling $8.8M were not collected at the end of 2016, but were kept on hand.
PAC Member, Juan Edghill requested the REO provide a list of the contractors and suppliers who have not collected their cheques. He also requested details of the contracts and when works were completed.
“Mr. Chairman, we have a situation where suppliers and contractors are no longer eager to collect their money. These cheques were not collected as of September 2017,” Edghill stated.
Jaikarran stated that none of the persons has made claims for the cheques and they are no longer working with the Region. He also stated that he did not include the monies as a previous year liability.
“I am troubled here that we have such distinguished Guyanese who would provide services to the tune of $8.8 million and they are not interested in being paid by going for their cheques,” Edghill stated.
The decision by the RDC to retain the cheques breached financial regulations which stipulated that unspent budgeted funds must be returned to the consolidated fund at the of the financial year. The cheques were eventually returned to the consolidated fund.
“You know the rule; why were they kept on hand?” Edghill questioned Jaikarran.
The REO stated that the cheques were kept on hand with the hopes that persons would show up to collect them.
The REO hesitated when faced with questions about not transferring the monies back to the consolidated fund as required.
This prompted PAC member and Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence to declare that the committee is not a court.
“We are here to ensure that you are following the rules and the procedures, but we also want to know where the shortcomings are in the system. That is the only way we can fix it. If you can really open up to us and say look this is the reality of what is happening out there and the system needs to now go back and find some way in which they can adjust to allow us to operate without breaking the rule,” Lawrence stated.
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