Chartered Accountant and former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, is of the view that the audited financial statements of the 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), the 215 Amerindian Village Councils and the several foreign-funded projects should be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny.
He said that this is necessary since most of these entities are significantly in arrears in terms of financial reporting and audit. Some do not even have audited financial statements since they were established. Goolsarran believes that this is an issue which needs to be resolved quickly by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Goolsarran also explained that the reason these financial statements are not covered in the Auditor General’s Report for 2017, as in previous reports, is due to the fact that the Auditor General’s main report only covers Ministries, Departments, and Regions.
He said that the six municipalities, the 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, the 215 Amerindian Village Councils as well as the several foreign-funded projects are required to have separate financial reporting and audit.
He said that this is because these entities are governed by separate legislation, such as the Public Corporations Act, the Companies Act, Municipal and District Councils’ Act, the Local Government Act and the Amerindian Act.
Goolsarran said, “Statutory bodies, such as the Bank of Guyana and the Guyana Revenue Authority, also have their own legislation. Foreign-funded projects are, however, the subject of separate agreements with the Government.
“Given that the mandate of the Auditor General relates to the public accounts in their entirety, in principle, the audited accounts of these other entities should also be laid in the Assembly and referred to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for detailed examination.”
The Chartered Accountant went further to point out that Article 223 of the Constitution defines the public accounts to include the accounts of all central and local government bodies and entities; all bodies and entities in which the State has a controlling interest; and all projects funded by way of loans and grants by a foreign State or organization.
He said, too, that Central and local government bodies include Ministries, Departments, and Regions as well as the municipalities, the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), and district and village councils.
Goolsarran said that entities in which controlling interest is vested in the State include public corporations, government companies, and statutory bodies, while foreign-funded projects are those funded by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, among others.
Goolsarran added that the Auditor General is in effect the external auditor of the entire public sector. Given the enormity of his mandate, the Chartered Accountant pointed out that there is provision for the engagement of Chartered Accountants in public practice to audit on the Auditor General’s behalf and under his supervision, any of the accounts referred to above.
Goolsarran said that it has been the practice for the audits of public enterprises to be contracted out to Chartered Accountants because of their greater expertise in commercial-type audits.
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