… citizens urged to report all corrupt practices
The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) said in light of the recent house lot payment fraud in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), which resulted in the Regional Housing Officer being sent on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, the Authority is not in favour of compensating those affected.
“I think first we must establish what has happened and I won’t want to argue that the Regional Housing Officer was not acting on behalf of CH&PA when he engaged in such activity and I would not be favourable to compensating anyone who was defrauded by the accused,” Chief Executive Officer of the CH&PA, Lelon Saul said.
According to reports, earlier in the year, Region Two’s Regional Housing Officer Omesh Sasenarine allegedly collected the sum of $50,000 as payment for a house lot but issued a persona receipt instead of an official one, converting the money to his own use.
The woman, he sold the land, visited the Regional Democratic Office for an update on the progress of her transaction only to be told that there were no records and the receipt she had in her possession is fake. She then ventured to office of the Central Housing and Planning Authority at Brickdam, Georgetown and it was revealed that there were no records of the transaction.
An investigation was launched into the incident.
Saul told a press conference on Monday that the issue is engaging the attention of the Police and investigations are ongoing. He added that they are also investigating to determine whether this was an isolated incident or part of a pattern of corruption.
“During last week, we received a report which seems to suggest that the Regional Housing Officer at Region number Two unlawfully collected $50,000 and issued a forged receipt for a house lot. Police was called and the accused was arrested. Investigation is ongoing to establish whether or not this is an isolated incident or a patterned corrupt practice,” he said.
Sasenarine have since been sent on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation and if found culpable, he would be immediately dismissed.
Except for the CH&PA office in Georgetown and Linden, all payments for house lots must be made at the Regional Democratic Offices in Regions Two, Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Five (Mahaica-Berbice), Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo). Given this report, ongoing investigations are being carried out at all those offices.
He informed that the Authority is currently conducting audits of all their offices and would ensure that their regional offices are much more closely monitored. He added that there would be regular audits by the Regional Audit Departments and at least one managerial visit per month.
“Given this report I therefore request of members of the public who may be adversely affected or aggrieved by indiscretion of any employee of the Central Housing and Planning Authority to immediately report such cases to the CEO office or any manager of the agency,” Saul said.
“Further, I advise citizens not to enable corruption by offering inducements to the employees of the CH&PA. Moreover, you’re welcome to report cases when employees demand payment or favour. Our employees are paid by the State and you do not need to pay them. Let me assure you all cases of corruption will be thoroughly investigated and those found wanting will be ferret out and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he added.
The CH&PA is also advising persons to be more observant when making payments for house lots at the Regional Offices.