In the wake of a forensic audit into Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Keith Burrowes has expressed his readiness to accept full responsibility for any actions that he took.
Burrowes, who strongly denied accusations appearing in the public domain that he had emigrated from Guyana, revealed that he is overseas in order to receive medical treatment and that he would be returning once he has recovered.
While reluctant to speak publicly due to the sensitive nature of investment in Guyana, the former CEO has spoken out for the first time in order to clear his name.
Regarding the audit report, Burrowes stressed that he had no problem with the overall premise of the audit. He stated that while he was prepared to accept responsibility for his actions, there was no subterfuge involved.
“I’m prepared to take full responsibility for the decisions that were taken and the basis for those decisions will be explained at the appropriate time. Because I know that whatever actions I took was up front. No investor can come and accuse me of (bribery). But I made decisions and I stand by them.”
However, Burrowes questioned the credibility of the final audit report, as the report omitted all positive decisions he made as CEO. He also expressed surprise at the amount of media reports published, which laid blame solely on his shoulder.
The former presidential advisor said that an observer could arrive at the impression that the audits and subsequent publications targeted specific people.
“I’ve seen elements of the report and I was surprised that a number of actions have been taken during my stay (of) two years, all that has happened and existing, has been placed on my shoulder.”
Touching on the report, which had spoken of an ad hoc procurement system and lack of a charter, Burrowes stated that when he took office an internal policy for this system was not yet written and implemented. He stated that this was a work in progress.
According to the former CEO, under his watch Go-Invest had begun documenting financial and procurement systems, which were already coming on board. He stated that he had refused to recommend any further agreement extension to investors unless they honoured their obligations.
“But generally, some of the things that the auditor said were not being done, if you are not getting the resources how do you expect these things to be put in place? If (the auditor) had done an analysis of the budget, he would have noticed that we did not have the capacity to do things. Talk about putting procurement systems in place, monitoring reports. We had about 5,000 investors. We were not getting the resources.”
GO-Invest is a statutory body which functions as the facilitator of local and foreign investments in Guyana. Burrowes was appointed CEO in April of 2014, after serving as the Executive Chairman of the board. He resigned in 2015.
The audit report, which was released on February 3 last, had mentioned a number of findings. According to the report, GO-Invest does not have an Internal Audit Department or Audit Charter.
The report had also spoken of the entity having a procurement system that had not been transparent. It had stated that the Procurement Act of 2003 had not been followed, something which the former CEO was adamant is not true as he stated that the government procurement system was used.
According to the report, there were instances where no quotes for purchases above $250,000 were requested, as is required by the law.
The Go-Invest audit is one of several audits undertaken in 2015 by the coalition Government. (Guyana Times)