Jul 21, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday met where two issues of overpayment was highlighted and discussed. The first issue was in relation to persons who are no longer members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), being paid while off the job and the latter is a contractor who was overpaid for rehabilitation works at the Palms Geriatric Facility.
After facing a series of questions from newly appointed Chairman of the PAC, Jermaine Figueira, and PAC member and Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, Senior Superintendent of Police, Calvin Brutus, admitted to the PAC that the overpaying of persons who no longer serve the GPF is a systemic problem.
The issue was recorded in the Auditor General’s 2012 report. According to Brutus, overpayments occurs when ranks resign, are absent without leave (AWOL) or are terminated from the job for abandoning their posts and the information is not dispatched to the Police Finance Department to halt payments.
He stated very often when ranks are terminated or opt to resign; a system is expected to be followed to ensure that the Force’s Finance Department puts a stop to the monthly salary payments.
However, he noted that due to the process not being followed, the Finance Department continues to transfer payments into the accounts of ranks who no longer serve the Force leading to an overpayment.
For the period 2010 to 2012, the total sum of $2,264,000 was overpaid to ranks, and the money is yet to be recovered.
Moreover, Brutus explained that every month approximately eight ranks go AWOL. He then explained to the committee that after a 72-hour period of no contact from a rank has elapsed, the station sergeant or superior officer at that rank’s post is required to report the issue and record same as dereliction of duty.
Brutus not only accepted that the issue remains a systemic issue but noted that preventative measures are being taken.
PAC member Edghill noted that this is not the first time the issue is being brought before the PAC. According to him, previous years when the matter was discussed it was promised that the letter of termination will be copied and simultaneously dispatched to the Force’s Finance Department.
Meanwhile, Edghill raised questions about similar issue of overpayment at the level of the Human Services Ministry formerly known as the Ministry of Social Protection. The overpayment to the tune of $366,788 to the contractor was made for rehabilitation works of the Palms Geriatric facility.
Alluding to the Auditor General’s 2016 report, which highlighted the overpayment by a superintendent of works under the Ministry to a contractor, Edghill asked Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Human Services, Shannielle Hoosein-Outar, to provide answers to questions surrounding the issue.
The Public Works Minister opined that overpayments only occur in the instance of carelessness or collusion on the part of the superintendent of works.
“We have the same gentleman who signed off payments for works that were not done. And he’s still in the same position. And you’re not aware if any sanctions have been taken against him. And it is expected that the public would be convinced that this time around he would only pay for works that have been measured?” Edghill questioned.
Hoosein-Outar noted that while she could say that the superintendent signed off on the overpayments, she could not say whether his actions were deliberate or not. She noted nonetheless that if she should come across the issue during her tenure as PS the person responsible will be dealt with.
The PS later promised to provide the PAC with details of any disciplinary actions, if any that were taken against the Superintendent Officer, as well as the officer’s qualifications for the post he currently holds.
She said that this will be provided to the PAC by next week. Meanwhile, Hoosein-Outar revealed that the contractor that was overpaid the sum had agreed to repay the extra money in four monthly installments and has already done so.
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