Regional Executive Officer (REO) for Region Three, Denis Jaikarran, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday where he had to defend the region’s procurement practices.
The Auditor General’s 2016 report had flagged instances where contracts were not being awarded to the lowest bidder, a fact that the PAC pointed out resulted in missed opportunities to save money.
Moreover, the fact that the Region held on to some 19 cheques totalling $8.8 million without returning them to the Consolidated Fund within the stipulated time frame was put under the microscope by the PAC.
PAC member Juan Edghill questioned Jaikarran on this, asking if the REO could “indicate to us why these 19 cheques totalling $8.8 million were still on hand as of September 2017? And could he indicate to us when were they refunded, if they were?”
In response, Jaikarran posited that “yes, the cheques were on hand…But all would have been refunded to the Consolidated Fund … I’m advised that those cheques were kept on hand despite the fact that they should not have been there, because persons were not coming forward to uplift them.”
He was asked by the PAC Chairman Irfaan Ali whether he knew the rules.
According to Section 43 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability FMA Act 2003, at the end of each fiscal year, any unexpended balance of public monies issued out of the Consolidated Fund shall be returned and surrendered to the Consolidated Fund.
The Audit Office had recommended that the Regional Administration institute measures to ensure full repayment to the Consolidated Fund of all amounts remaining unpaid at the end of each financial year in compliance with the FMA Act.