Auditor General Deodat Sharma is expected to hand over the 2015 Auditor General’s Report to Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland later today and according to top officials in the Audit Office of Guyana, the report is expected to highlight the continued abuse of the Contingency Fund by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition which took office in May 2015.
The APNU/AFC while in Opposition, complained bitterly about similar acts by the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration.
A senior functionary within the Audit Office, who has access to the audit information, was quoted in the Guyana Times as saying that there are a series of abuses of the Contingency Fund by the APNU/AFC Administration during 2015, the Fiscal year under review. The source said the abuse continued into 2016, pointing to the single-sourcing of the controversial Sussex Street Drug Bond as a prime example.
According to the Guyana Times article, speaking directly about the period under review, the official confirmed that the 2015 Audit Report is expected to highlight a number of abuses, including the Supplementary Financial Paper No 3 of 2015 which saw a total of $799,897,637 being utilised from the Contingency Fund for the period September 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015.
One of the withdrawals expected to be highlighted in the report is the $48 million for the purchase of furniture and equipment for the Ministry of the Presidency and State House, as well as the installation of 6000 solar systems at the President’s official residence, which is not deemed to be of any “urgency”.
The 2015 Audit report is also expected to highlight a $77 million advance from the said Fund for the provision of salary increases and a one-off tax free payment for the University of Guyana at the Turkeyen and Tain locations.
Then there is the $11 million withdrawal from the Contingency Fund in 2015 as part payment to the Guyana National Newspapers Limited, the publisher of the Government-owned Guyana Chronicle as an outstanding balance owed by the Government Information Agency (GINA) – another State-owned entity.
The Audit Office official said that all of the highlighted cases are but a few of the abuses of the Contingency Fund by the Government.
These abuses were previously highlighted to the Government when the financial paper was tabled and subsequently approved by the Government-controlled National Assembly, but at the time, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had dismissed these accusations, stating he was not of the opinion that the advances made amount to the abuse of the Contingency Fund.
Meanwhile, the report is also expected to cover several cases prior to the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections, as the then PPP/C Government was also drawing down from the Contingency Fund.
It is also important to recall that then President Donald Ramotar had prorogued the Parliament and subsequently called the General Elections, therefore there was no 2015 National Budget until August of that year; four months after the coalition Government took office, and thus the report is also expected to highlight a number of instances of abuse of the Contingency Fund under the previous Administration.