Thursday, January 15, 2009

PNCR calls for value-for-money audits of public sector expenditure

Kaieteur News news item, Sunday 11 January 2009

PNCR calls for value-for-money audits of public sector expenditure
January 11, 2009 | By knews |

Volda Lawrence
By Gary Eleazar
There is dire need for the value for money audits of public expenditure in
This is according to Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC),
Member of Parliament and Executive member of the People's National Congress
Reform Volda Lawrence during the party's first press briefing of 2009.
According to Lawrence, the public is continuously regaled with claims of the
expenditure of massive sums of public money for infrastructural and other
projects, "yet we are witnessing the rapid deterioration of our bridges,
drainage systems, roads, among others."
The PAC chairperson told media operatives that the latest examples are the
sorry state of the Demerara Harbour Bridge and the claim that the Government
has spent G$1.7B to prepare the drainage system for the current rainy
"All of this points to the importance of Public Oversight and
Lawrence added also that the non appointment of a substantive Auditor
General and the non completion of arrangements for the autonomy of the
Office of the Auditor General are all part of the scheme to avoid effective
Oversight and Accountability to the people of Guyana, through the National
"There is evidently the need to have an effectively and efficiently
functioning Office of the Auditor General, equipped with the resources to
undertake value-for-money audits of Public sector expenditure...The Guyanese
people are yet to be presented with the audited accounts for the funds
expended during the 2005 floods, the Cricket World Cup and Carifesta X."
She added also that the President continues to behave as if "the public
purse is his to dispose of as capriciously as he alone determines".
This, she said, was evident from his refusal to have the Lotto funds placed
in the Consolidated Fund and his practice of the extra-budgetary allocation
of public funds as he deems fit.
The Audit Office of Guyana did in October benefit from a value for money
audit workshop.
The Canadian Comprehensive Audit Foundation (CCAF) hosted the five-day
workshop which included employees of the Auditor General's Office as well as
participants from Barbados, Argentina, Costa Rica and St Lucia.
According to Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, the diversity in the
participants would have significantly enhanced the capacity of his staff,
and will be reflected in the value-for-money audit that is slated for the
current audit underway.
Twenty-eight staffers of the Audit Office were also last year engaged in a
three-day capacity building workshop on quality assurance auditing.
That workshop was part of a US$600,000 IDB consultancy programme to
strengthen the functioning of the Audit Office in Guyana.

This road in Region Nine was built in early 2008 and by year-end it had
already deteriorated with some sections eroded by as much as three to four
The money was secured in 2007 when Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and then
Resident Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Sergio
Varas Olea, entered into a non-reimbursable technical co-operation agreement
to finance the implementation of the Strategic Plan of the Audit Office of
The US$600,000 grant would support previous activities which the Government
undertook to strengthen and modernise the Audit Office, by improving its
structure and operation through support to the implementation of critical
activities of its Strategic Development Plan.
The Government had also previously sought to advance the modernisation and
strengthening of the Audit Office, with the support of the IDB, through a
non-reimbursable technical assistance contribution, which commenced in May
2003 and was considered the first phase of the process.
In the overview of his 2006 Auditor General Report, Sharma had stressed that
there were a number of other issues that were still to be addressed with
respect to improving procedures, practices and standards within the Office.
One such issue, he identified, was the implementation of a Performance
Audit/Value for Money Section.
This, he said, is expected to be phased in over a three-year period with the
formulation of a manual for the execution of VFM audits, the setting up of a
VFM audit section that is adequately staffed, and the staff trained in the
conduct of such audits.
He had noted, too, that another issue to be addressed was the establishment
of a Forensic Unit with well-formulated procedures and staff trained to
conduct forensic audits.
"In addition, the complete implementation of a Quality Review Section, with
well-documented review procedures and appropriately qualified staff, will go
along way in enhancing the review component of each audit, as well as
contributing to consistent and appropriate reports being issued....
It is expected that additional funding in the form of another IDB grant can
be secured to assist in the continued strengthening of the Audit Office,
with the implementation of these vital aspects."

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