Upon reflecting on the numerous infractions documented in his 2017 report, Auditor General Deodat Sharma is of the firm view that there needs to be more respect for the Procurement Act by the government and its respective agencies.
During an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News recently, Sharma called for there to be more training in the area of procurement, for disciplinary action to be taken against those who fail to respect the law of the land, as well as for efforts to be made to recover overpayments.
Sharma said, “My 2017 report shows instances where contracts above $1.5M were awarded using the three-quote method, when this should not be the case. There are instances where contracts were being awarded without advertisements and works which were done but had no evaluation report…”
His biggest grouse, however, is with the spending on the D’Urban Park Stadium.
From 2017 to now, Sharma said he is yet to receive critical documentation that would support the transparent spending of millions of dollars for the project. Sharma said that he has never witnessed a case of this magnitude before.
The Auditor General said, “They should not have sole sourced. They knew Independence Day was coming up and they should have planned for it… To date, I don’t have information on the spending of millions of dollars… I even wrote a letter to the private company that was created, Homestretch Development Inc. (HDI), for the implementation of the project and it came back as not accepted…”
Further to this, Sharma reminded that his 2017 report notes in detail, the number of anomalies he came across during his examination of the financial situation involving the controversial D’Urban Park Jubilee Stadium.
Sharma had said that at December 31, 2017, amounts totaling $1.150B were expended on the project.
However, Payment Vouchers to support the expenditure of $107.119M were not produced for audit examination. As such, Sharma said that the completeness, accuracy, and validity of this amount could not be determined.
In addition to this, the Auditor General pointed out that the amount of $500M was paid to Homestretch Development Inc. (HDI), the private company that was created to implement the D’Urban Park Project. This was paid over to the company so that it could meet its obligation to its creditors.
However, Sharma found that there was no documentation attached to the Payment Vouchers to indicate the works done or that supervisory checks were carried out on the works. He highlighted too that there was no certification to show that the works were satisfactorily completed.
Further to this, Sharma said that the list of HDI creditors and Government’s proposed payment allocation to each creditor was attached to the Payment Vouchers. In the circumstances, the Auditor General said that the correctness, accuracy and validity of the payments made could not be determined.
Sharma in his 2017 report said that his Office wrote the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure on July 19, 2018, requesting documentation detailing the works done, supervisory checks of the said works, as well as certification that works were satisfactorily completed.
The Head of the Budget Agency later explained that the Ministry was not involved in the operations of HDI, hence, it did not have any information detailing supervisory checks or their methodology of determining that works were satisfactorily completed.
Sharma told Kaieteur News that his Office is still conducting its investigations into the case.
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