By Kiana Wilburg
The Audit Office of Guyana is moving fast ahead with a number of capacity building exercises so that it can be in the best possible position to scrutinize the oil and gas sector.
This was confirmed yesterday by Auditor General, Deodat Sharma. He was at the time, delivering remarks at the handing over of his 2017 report to House Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland in one of the Parliament’s committee rooms.
According to the official, the Audit Office through a partnership with the Canadian Executive Services Organization (CESO) will be engaging in several capacity building initiatives in the coming weeks.
He said that this will be carried out with the assistance of two Canadians, namely Mr. Daniel Barchyn- Senior Executive and Professional Engineer with over 38 years experience in the energy industry. Sharma said that the Canadian’s experience includes founding and leading two oil and gas exploration and production companies. As for the other consultant, Rajesh Dayal, the Auditor General said that this official comes with over 27 years experience in the public service of Canada including 13 years at the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.
Sharma said, “More specifically, we would be looking at the various areas in the oil and gas sector that may be relevant to our engagement when it comes to examining the revenues and expenditures of the sector. The areas include: financial, regulatory, technical; and even scientific.”
Through the same partnership with Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO), Sharma said that the office will be building capacity to undertake environmental audits. He said that the Office will look at the regulatory aspects, including environmental governance, as well as key environmental issues, be it: Air, Rivers, Land, Oceans and coastal areas, Forests, the extractive sector, or Solid waste management and disposal.
Further to this, Sharma revealed that a few weeks ago, two officers embarked on a nine months’ attachment with the Audit Office of British Columbia, Canada. One Officer will be working in the area of Environmental Audit, with special emphasis on Guyana’s level of preparedness to deal with an oil spill at sea which can have devastating effects on our endangered species, and also on our crops and livestock along our coastline.
Sharma said that this forms part of an arrangement with the Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation (CAAF) for which an Agreement with the Audit Office of Guyana would be signed in January 2019, whereby CAAF will be providing training in various disciplines for the office over the next seven years.
The Auditor General said that the other officer will be working in the area of ‘Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls’ with specific emphasis on the “Management of the Technical and Vocational Education Training Program (TVET).” Sharma said that the TVET institutions are committed to offering education and training to youths and adults in areas vital to the development of Guyana.
As the nation moves closer to 2020, the Auditor General said that Guyana will need skilled manpower, both male and female, in the oil and gas sector. In this regard, Sharma said that the aim of the audit will be to assess the effectiveness of the TVET institutions in providing the necessary training.
Sharma said, “I would like to add that there are still some entities whose audits are in backlog. However, we are taking steps to gradually bring them up-to-date. The Audit Office was able to increase its visibility and improve collaboration with some of its key stakeholders, including those in the hinterland where communication mediums are limited or even nonexistent.”
The Auditor General said, too, that an official website was developed, www.audit.org.gy, and brochures and booklets published on the role and work of the Office. He said that infomercials were also developed and publicized using the electronic media.
At present, Sharma said that Guyana is the Deputy Chair of the Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions CAROSAI. In August 2018, he said that CAROSAI celebrated its 30th Anniversary in Jamaica. During the latter part of June 2019, Sharma said that Guyana will be hosting the 11th Congress of CAROSAI. At the conclusion of this Congress Guyana will be taking over the Chairmanship of CAROSAI.
The Auditor General also thanked the members of the press for highlighting topical issues in the media from which he and his team were able to conduct audits and special investigations, and report the results to the relevant stakeholders.
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