[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has revealed that Cabinet has approved audits for over 30 state entities, and that the new Minister of Finance is ensuring that monies assigned to the Consolidated Funds are indeed going there.
He told the State media that missing state assets must be recovered “where ever these are, whether here or overseas, and that to this end, there is likely to be established a State Asset Recovering Unit, tasked with this responsibility.”
This unit will in all likelihood be multi-agency and will be aided by overseas entities so that the recovery process will be efficient.
In terms of actual value, the Minister explained that Professor Clive Thomas estimated the amount “siphoned off” to be almost $300 billion per year, a figure that at least one international agency has topped, giving it as $500 billion.
The Minister explained also that when it comes to the actual regaining of State assets, the unit in charge will be independent, but with broad powers. This unit will then make recommendations based on findings, after which all will be presented to the ruling administration for examination and action if necessary.
Quizzed on ‘irregularities and mal-practices’ unearthed thus far during the ‘transitioning’ period, Minister Harmon detailed that those who were exposed “did not result from any form of witch-hunting, as in any state, officers must be accountable and responsible.” He expressed the view that where mal-practices are concerned, that “anything and anyone inimical to the State must be looked at and they have been put on notice.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance is expected to commence financial audits of at least four agencies on Monday, three of which are the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Guyana Gold Board (GCB) and National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
This was disclosed by Minister of Finance Mr. Winston Jordon. It was noted that the audit will target these agencies which, under the previous administration were allowed to remain as offline accounts, and did not follow the correct procedure of having their revenues placed in the Consolidated Fund.
Earlier the Finance Minister had stated that he had unearthed that the Consolidated Fund is heavy in over draft, whilst the previous government was maintaining several offline accounts.
The Minister explained that there are two Consolidated Funds, an older one that had “mothball, so to speak when we were bringing in IFMAS (Integrated Financial Management and Accounting Systems) back in 2003” and the current Consolidated Fund.
He said that the older fund has an un-reconciled balance of about $46B. The two funds together have a balance of $71B but adjusting for offline accounts that really belong to government, there is about $60B overall, the Minister explained.
In terms of the offline financial records, the Ministry has already started closing accounts with balances that should have gone into the present Consolidated Fund. The Ministry is also examining other accounts and doing forensic audits for some funds like Petrocaribe, lotto, wildlife and those related to GGMC, GGB and NICIL.
The Minister said that once these audits are completed, the ministry will be better able to ascertain the balances in these offline accounts and will then transfer those to their rightful place which is the Consolidated Fund. [Extracted and modified from GINA]