…Ministry in 2015 paid $2.5M for $250,000 voucher, unable to recover to date
Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Alfred King was today (June 12, 2017) hauled over the proverbial coals during this week’s sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament which was abruptly brought to a halt when the Accounting Officer was unable to produce a breakdown of $47M used at the Amerindian Hostel.
King’s almost one hour long interrogation by Chairman Irfaan Ali was brought to a premature halt when he was asked to provide a breakdown of the money used for dietary supplies for the Amerindian Hostel.
He was earlier unable to provide specific details on a $6.7M contract with a Bourda Market ‘greens vendor.’
Asked to account for the remainder of the $47M allocation used for dietary supplies in 2015, King told the PAC he would need 20 minutes since that information was at the office.
Ali immediately suspended the proceedings but on his return, the Permanent Secretary was still unable to provide a breakdown of the more than $40M.
King assured the Committee Members of the existence of the register but this was found not to been the case.
The whirlwind session saw the Permanent Secretary visibly frazzled throughout the proceedings, changing answers seconds after advancing them in addition to the contradictory statements on the expenditure approved by that office.
The PAC was at the time scrutinizing the expenditure and addressing the financial discrepancies raised by the Auditor General in his 2015 Report.
The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, prepared a voucher to make a payment to a Bourda Market vendor for the supply of fruits, greens and vegetables.
The Committee heard that the voucher was prepared on December 15, 2015 for $251,000 but a cheque was actually made out to the supplier for $2.5M and the ministry is to date unable to recover the total amount.
The discrepancies raised over that supplier Devindra Sugrim, were not limited to the overpayment.
In fact, King told the Committee that the supplier was based on institutional memory at the Ministry in the form of a Register. This was also found not to be true.
King earlier told the Committee that the supplier was secured using a three quota system but was unable to clearly inform PAC how exactly the supplier was chosen by the Ministry.
Over the limit
One such payment was found to be for $663,480 while the limit is set at $250,000.
King will have to return at a date to be set by the PAC.