Tony Vieira's Comments
22 October 2017

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2001 Auditor General's Report
(Aired 20 January 2003)

Some months ago, like you, I listened in complete disbelief as our minister of Health told us that he would break any rule any regulation and any law to get on with the job. I unlike others said nothing but I made a mental note to wait for the Auditor General's Goolsarran's report for the year 2001 to see how far Dr. Ramsammy had ventured into the realm of misdemeanour in public office.

As usual his Ministry not unlike any other department was riddled with financial irregularities, contract splitting, non reconciliation of accounts, old checks not being cleared, endless cases of failure to record new assets in the asset register book etc. but it is not only Ramsammy that is breaking down the rules, his vehicles are also doing it, the cost of maintaining the Ministry of Health's vehicles appears to A.G. Goolsarran to be excessive.

The reconciliation cash book did not agree with the actual balances and at the end of 2001 showed a difference of 5.885 million.

The construction of the health care centre at Enmore was awarded to a contractor who had the 2nd highest bid of 21.556 million; notwithstanding that TWO of the THREE member Central Tender Board team had recommended that the work be given to the lowest bidder. But this contractor (who should not have gotten the work in the first place) ended up doing it for 29.438 million with some unsatisfactory features associated with the contract. Ramsammy can still stand up in Guyana and tell us that he will break any rule etc. but 1.678 million was expended on the purchase of micro-biological equipment for the Public from a supplier in Trinidad for the Public Hospital and which has never been received.

In 1999 the project management unit hired a consultant to: A. assist the ministry to reorganise and strengthen the health sector, B develop an integrated health service delivery strategy C. develop a managerial capacity and human resources D. develop health financing options and resource allocation mechanisms and E. to provide institutional development of the public Hospital Georgetown. The contract was for the amount of 1.696 million US dollars after paying out US$1,022,630 to this consultancy firm the contract was terminated because of continued unsatisfactory performance, ladies and gentlemen I am not sure if this unsatisfactory performance was on the part of the consultants or the Ministry.

Now we come to PHG in the auditor General's report. The sum of 18.332 was expended on several items including a Nissan path finder, the items were verified as received, but were never inventorised. If you receive a new item and do not inventorise that item, it can disappear later and no one will ever know, so this is dangerous practice, one of these items a urological endoscopic equipment was purchased without being offered to public tendering at a cost of 5 million dollars, the explanation was that it was urgently needed, it was received in March 2002 BUT at the time of reporting October 2002 the equipment was still lying in the stores. Far too many assets of the Ministry of Health are being received and are not being added to the asset register this can lead to disaster. Other areas of this failure to inventorise assets are, 4.275 million of office equipment, computers, chairs etc for the central ministry and the Linden Hospital. The Linden Hospital apparently unlike their minister does not want to bend the rules and they have inventorised their share of this allocation but the central ministry did not. 15 million voted for the purchase of dental chairs, autoclaves for regional clinics and other electronic testing devices were bought but 2 chemistry analysers for the New Amsterdam hospital totalling 6.79 million were not inventorised.

Let's see how our new disaster of a Minister Shadik fared, for some months we have been hearing the Post Office people and Minister Shadik cussing up each other about the fraud with the issuance of old age pensions. The Auditor General's report tells us that 40,000 old age pension books costing 1.7 million were printed; several areas of weakness in the receipt and issuing of the books were identified in the audit which probably led to the disaster.

The Ministry did not maintain a control register to record the receipt and issuing of these pension books, additionally requests for old age pension books were not made on internal stores requisition forms. So for the entire year of 1991 the period under review the ENTIRE 40,000 books purchased were issues notwithstanding that we only have 35,403 pensioners. The breakdown by region establishes that in the issuing of these extra pension books to the regions, Region 3 in which the books were initially printed, by an alleged family of Minister Shadik, got 2194 extra books, nearly half of the 4597 extra books that were shared out.

When ministers do not tell us the truth they must understand that there are some of us who can read and are patient, we do not need to get involved in the rumour mill that accompanies these irregularities, it will all come out sooner than later, so here we have the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security issuing 4597 extra pension books to the various regions. No one made fraudulent copies of them ladies and gentlemen, extra copies were GIVEN to the regions in case anyone wanted to get a few extra old age pension payments. Was it deliberate? Was it incompetence? You decide; whatever the cause however, incompetence/fraud the Minister is responsible and should GO.

It is time to audit the Auditor General ladies and gentlemen, on page 276 under subhead 19001-SIMAP phase 11, in subhead 1218, it tells us that the sum of 1.058 Million was allocated to A,B,C,D projects, and that amounts totalling $941.685 million was spent. This means that it was 1.058 Billion and not 1.058 million that was allocated. Of course our Auditor General Goolsarran was not in Guyana when the final draft was presented to parliament and it was signed by Mr. B. Balram. Watch it Mr. Balram, we have been spoilt by the accurate and diligent reporting of Mr Goolsarran.

Our minister of housing and water continues to pay GP&L 589 million out of a total expense of 1.255 Billion. This was 47% of the total cost of delivering water at GUYWA, at the GS&WC it was 36%, we paid GP&L 0.86 billion dollars for electrical costs at GUYWA and GS&WC in 1991. In my last commentary I dealt with the inequity of how Region 4 and specifically Georgetown was being treated, in 1991 the government subsidy to GUYWA which services 66% of the voters got a subvention from central government of 509 hundred million whilst the government subvention to the GS&WC was only 30 million. It is important to note that the Auditor General could not issue a qualified opinion on the GUYWA accounts, because a 615 million dollar amount A SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN MILLION AMOUNT shown as debtors, but could not be verified.

We now come to my favourite Ministry, head 51, division 507 Ministry of Home Affairs excluding police.

Our Ministry of Home Affairs has not balanced its main bank account since it was established in June 1996 failure of this reconciliation can result in fraud passing undetected.

11 purchases totalling 4.3 million did not pass through the tendering process.

7 instances of amounts totalling 1.085 million were discovered as being subdivided to avoid the three quote system of tendering.

3 instances totalling 740 million were split to avoid the tendering process, in each case the same items, were acquired on the same dates, from the same supplier! Another 1.755 million on two purchases bypassed central tender board requirements. This ministry like all the others are breaking the law in not returning unspent balances to the consolidated fund at the end of the fiscal year breaching section 36 of the FAA act on numerous occasions.

Every conceivable irregularity of contract splitting was recorded in 656 transactions totalling 39.323 million, there were 64 noted irregularities as to how the money was allocated. These are our guardians of law and order in this country ladies and gentlemen they are breaking more laws than the criminals. I totalled it, nearly one billion dollars in the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the awarding of contracts had some irregularity or the other associated with it.

The Lethem police station was allocated 3.94 million for rehabilitation after paying out the entire amount of 3.94 million the full amount was paid to the contractor physical inspection by the auditors revealed that 1.182 were overpaid for the works done and should be recovered from the contractor.

It goes on and on ladies and gentlemen. This Ministry is as complete a disaster in its financial management as in its failure to protect us from criminals.

The highlight of this budget is the numerous breaches of section 36 of the FAA act. i.e. returning money to the consolidated fund at the end of any fiscal year. The overdraft on the consolidated fund increased by 41.269 BILLION during the period 1995 to 2001. At the end of 2001 the consolidated fund was overdrawn by 63 .726 BILLION dollars. And still remains un-reconciled since 1988.

Ladies and gentlemen I like to make connections between cause and effect so I will make this one, whatever else Dr. Jagan was he was an honest man, his ideology may have come between him and his functioning in the real world and so he made many mistakes, but since he died in 1995 (a key year in the escalation of these accounting irregularities) this government went hog wild in the way they have misused our money.

He told us on more than one occasion that the rascality of the PPP was rabid and must stop, these audited reports of our country tells us that he was probably keeping a lid on it, but after he died, and was no longer there to watch them, this government and its functionaries went hog wild, they were like little children set free in the toffee shop. The man worked for 50 years building a solid reputation of being honest, the people he left in charge destroyed that image in less than 5 years. Wherever Dr. J is now, he must be a very sad indeed.