By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Startling revelations of over-payments, non-payments, overdraft and non-active bank accounts were made on Thursday June 25, when the Auditor General’s report for 2013 was released in Parliament.
The report covers the Public Accounts of Guyana and the accounts of Ministries/Departments/Regions for the Fiscal Year of 2013.
In the report’s executive summary, it is detailed that there was gross excesses paid by State agencies and Ministries for contract work during the period that was audited, amounting to nearly $200 million over some amount of years.
“In 2013, over payments amounting to $22.148 million were made on measured works on various contracts administered by Ministries, Departments and Regions,” the report states.
According to the report, the Guyana Police Force, under the Ministry of Home Affairs had the highest total in this respect with three payments totaling $12M.
The Ministry of Tourism followed closely behind with $4.8M in over-payments for the 2013 period.
“This continued trend coupled with no evidence to suggest that disciplinary action of any kind had been meted out to engineering or other staff involved in the assessment of works in progress and the certification of the progress reports is troubling and hints at management’s perceived inaction to remedy the current situation,” says Auditor General Deodat Sharma in the Executive Summary of the report.
He also stated that the slow processing of pay changes directed in one Ministry and Four Regions resulted in the overpayment of salaries to staff and deductions to agencies totaling $7.225 million for 2013.
“These entities faced serious challenges in recovering such sum particularly because banking institutions require authorisation from account holders to do so and statutory agencies such as the Guyana Revenue Authority and National Insurance Scheme are not complying with requests to refund sums overpaid,” the report states.
It was noted that for the years 2007 – 2012 there was some $35M in overpayments.
The report further details that the government is yet to collect funds that is owed for the sale of several agencies including Guyana Stores Limited and the National Paints Company.
GSL was sold in October 2000, for a total of US$6M; however the Government as at December 2013 has only been able to collect US$4M for the establishment. The balance on the sale should have been paid in September of 2002 – this was never done.
Shining some light on the activities over at the Consolidated Fund, it was noted that the new Consolidated Fund Bank Account No. 01610000407, which was opened in January 2004 was in overdraft.
“As at 31 December 31, 2013 the account reflected an overdraft of $2.055B, while the cash book reflected and overdraft balance of $21.480B,” the report pointed out.
The Auditor General was also critical of the fact that Guyana has not been able to move on from a cash-based economy as was recommended in previous reports.