As the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) prepares to hold Local Government Elections, cases involving allegations of procurement fraud at the entity still remain open more than two years after it was unearthed by auditors.
More than two months have passed since Auditor General Deodat Sharma disclosed plans to prepare a file with the reports for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for consideration of criminal charges.
Sharma has indicated that he is still in the process of completing the file.
The GECOM Secretariat has been accused of deliberately overseeing a system of procurement irregularities involving hundreds of millions of dollars in purchases – from radios, to pliers and batteries, to toners.
Audits were conducted at GECOM following the 2015 General Elections. The Auditor General’s office prepared three reports based on their investigations into the procurement of radios totalling $100M, the purchase of pliers and the procurement of toners.
Following the investigations, Sharma submitted his findings to the seven-member commission with a recommendation that the reports be turned over to the police for further investigations.
Sharma had provided GECOM with a time to prepare a response to the reports. This was not well received by the Chairman of GECOM, Justice James Patterson (ret’d) who challenged the Auditor to take the reports to the police.
In response, Sharma told Kaieteur News on March 7th he would send the reports to the DPP.
Sharma and his team had descended on the GECOM office to investigate worrisome procurement practices at the entity that overlooks general and local government elections.
One of the activities for the 2015 general elections was the purchase of a number of communication radios. This particular report raised many unanswered questions.
It was found that less than 90 percent of the radios were used, despite the strong reasons advanced by GECOM to the administration for the purchases. Some $100M was spent.
It was found that the radios arrived too late to be deployed for the May 11, 2015 elections.
The report found that on top of that purchase for the radios, which were all outdated, GECOM went ahead and bought 12 satellite phones for use, in case the radios could not be put into operation.
When Local Government Elections were held in 2016, the radios were still not used.
Government believes that GECOM has received sufficient funding and should be ready to hold Local Government Elections (LGE) by mid-November.
The entity has received direct funding from Government to the sum of $3.4B, which includes $500M from last year.
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