PAC grills REO’s as major discrepancies found in several Regions

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…says it will recommend action be taken against Region 8 REO 

Several pertinent concerns were raised and articulated during the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting in Parliament Chambers on Monday, including over payments to contractors and the shortages of drugs.

Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) Regional Executive Officer (REO) Gavin Clarke told the PAC meeting that resources in the national budget for the procurement of drugs for the Region were spent but were not meant to be spent.

Moreover, it was brought to the attention of the Committee, that there were severe shortages of drugs in the Region and the money set aside for drug purchases had already been utilised.

Clarke was also cautioned about information he presented to the PAC, as he was in the habit of withdrawing answers when quizzed on occupation of Government quarters by members of the PAC.

The REO was further cautioned by PAC Chairman Irfaan Ali about his responses.

Meanwhile, REO for Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), Rafel Downes was grilled about over-payments to contractors and could not provide answers as to the measures being taken to address the situation.

Ali said the Region was not only faced with that issue, highlighting that the office has also been faced with financial mismanagement over the past two years.

Downes was advised to issue the defaulting contractors with letters from the Region’s attorney in an effort to recover the monies owed.

One PAC member also highlighted the fact that at least five of the 11 delinquent contractors tendered and signed additional contract documents at the REO’s office, but did not repay what was owed.

Ali said it was unacceptable, because the Region continued to drag its feet on the issue.

The meeting was subsequently suspended, and the REO was advised to implement all outstanding recommendations.

The REO was then instructed to procure the information requested and provide answers to the Finance Secretary of the Finance Ministry, the Accountant General and the Auditor General’s Office.

Recommendations were also made to have measures put in place to ensure that regional officials are fully equipped and prepared to appear before the PAC.

The PAC says will be making several recommendations for swift action when it submits a report to the National Assembly that includes taking action against the REO.

A meeting between regional officials and the PAC is due in all 10 administrative regions.

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