Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Public Accounts Committee blasts home ministry, police over contract splitting

Public Accounts Committee blasts home ministry, police over contract splitting
Stabroek News news item. Tuesday June 3, 2008 In News

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly yesterday lambasted the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry of Home Affairs for the practice of contract splitting to avoid adjudication by the Departmental Tender Board.
And in response, the ministry said it has taken note and will take steps to correct the situation.
The PAC is currently considering the Auditor General’s Report for the year 2005 and is perusing the sections for the regional administrations, ministries and government departments.
Winston Murray, who yesterday performed the duties of Chairman as Volda Lawrence was out of the country, had cause to chide Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs Angela Johnson for irregular procurement practices and poor adherence to laid down rules governing aspects of spending for that ministry – including the Guyana Police Force.
“You need to be cognizant of the Procurement Act and ensure compliance since there are penalties,” Murray told the team which included officers from the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Fire Service and the General Registrar’s Office. “You have to be careful. These are not proper procedures for procurement,” Murray said.
He further inquired whether the police had instituted systems for double checks to be made so that procedures would be followed to the letter.
In one instance, the police purchased military kits in 90 instances totalling $7.94M. The Auditor General’s Office in its report for 2005 said these purchases were sub-divided to avoid the adjudication by Departmental Tender Board. According to the report, the head of the budget agency explained that this practice had since ceased and corrective action had been taken.
Further, the report had found that the sum of $151.558M was spent on office materials and supplies. There were 41 instances of breaches of tender board procedures. The report said that an audit examination revealed that Ministerial Tender Board approvals were not seen for five payments amounting to $2.7M and 28 payments valued at $2.2M were subdivided to avoid the adjudication of the Departmental Tender Board.
The Auditor General also commented that for the year 2006, tender board procedures commented on in 2005 were still not being adhered to.
Replying to the PAC, Johnson said the breaches were regrettable and that public tender had been invited for other supplies. She promised to make the necessary changes that will ensure compliance with established norms with regard to procurement.

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