Sunday, August 10, 2008

Auditor General report …Finance Ministry seeks to defend irregularity

Auditor General report …Finance Ministry seeks to defend irregularity
Kaieteur News. August 9, 2008 | News
http://www.kaieteurnews.com/?p=4361

The Finance Ministry last evening issued a statement seeking to discredit an article published in yesterday’s issue of Kaieteur News titled ‘Govt. abuses Public funds… billions unaccounted for —Auditor General’
The Ministry described the article as misleading.

It added that the conclusion reached in the story can only be based on a complete lack of understanding of the issues raised by the AG’s report, or a deliberate distortion of these issues.

Regarding the statements in the article citing Government abuse, the Auditor General report states, under the heading Contingencies Fund: “The Contingencies Fund continued to be abused, with amounts drawn from the Fund being utilised to meet expenditure which did not meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the Act.

According to the statement, amounts totalling $3.945 billion were drawn from the Fund by way of 138 advances. As at 31 December 2006, forty-nine of these advances, totalling $1.721 billion, remained outstanding.”

As it relates to the outstanding $1.721B cited, the Finance Ministry said that: “In fact, there is absolutely nothing irregular about contingency fund advances that remain outstanding at the end of the year.”

It added that, at any one point in time during the fiscal year, there may be Contingency Fund advances outstanding, and where Contingency Fund advances are approved close to the end of the year, such advances may remain outstanding at the end of the year until they are cleared by a supplementary appropriation act.

“This, indeed, was the case with the advances outstanding at the end of 2006, which were cleared by a supplementary appropriation act approved shortly thereafter…The Auditor General’s statement on the amounts outstanding at the end of the year can, by no stretch of the imagination, be extended to be interpreted as an irregularity in relation to these amounts.”

The ministry’s statement added that the same is the case with a number of other issues that were reported on by the Auditor General and which were distorted by the Kaieteur News story in a sensational manner.

There was, however, no specific mention of the so-called other statements that were distorted.

The statement did not comment on the other discrepancies and findings by the Auditor General. It did not comment on the monies paid for the purchase of arms and ammunition in 2003 that continue to be missing, or the monies spent by the Health Ministry.

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