Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
By Lisa Hamilton
Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, on Thursday, handed over the Audit Report for 2019 which zeroes in on special investigations involving the Health Ministry’s Drug Bond; the Sustainable Livelihood Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) Project and the Leguan Stelling rehabilitation.
Other special investigations include the Mayor and City Councilors of Georgetown; the Retainers Agreement of the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the acquisition of birth certificates by the former Ministry of the Presidency.
The handover of the report took place at the Parliament Building and present to receive it was Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir along with others such as the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Issacs and Members and Advisors of the Public Accounts Committee.
Only when the report is laid in the National Assembly will it become a public document. The aforementioned special investigations were finalised between October 2019 to November 2020, 10 months under the leadership of the former administration and some four months under the current.
The matter of the Drug Bond is a known scandal that has taken the media spotlight for quite some time. In the past and present, the current Administration believes that some amount of alleged corruption was involved in its management.
Meanwhile, the SLED project was established under the former Administration to give more young people the opportunity to become business owners but Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall claimed during the 2020 Budget estimate that some $250 million a part of the progamme still remains unaccounted for.
After taking Office, the Administration, through Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill also announced that a forensic audit would commence into the $413M Leguan Stelling contract for grave mismanagement.
Four performance audits also commenced this year but are expected to be completed in 2021 due to the pandemic. They include maternal health care services at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), the hinterland school feeding programme; preparedness for possible oil spills and Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (TVET).
In receiving the report, the Speaker of the National said that he is pleased that Guyana is mover closer each day to increased transparency and accountability. He said that his is pleased with the performance audits completed but hopes that more resources would be put in place to increase the number of such audits moving forward.
“We look forward to your office continuing to execute its functions independently, efficiently and to bring value to the resources of the people of our country,” he said.
This marks the 16th report of the Auditor General. Its provision was delayed due to the constraints of the pandemic. During his presentation, Sharma also highlighted that the Audit Office has conducted several training programmes; increased its number of fellows and facilitated the higher education of one staff.
Now, more than ever, he said that the Office is relying on technology to perform its audits and looks forward to greater achievements in the future.