Sunday, June 21, 2009

Good governance lacking in Guyana

Kaieteur News news item, Sunday 21 June 2009

Good governance lacking in Guyana – Volda Lawrence

The evidence is persuasive that the Jagdeo Administration does not understand or subscribe to the exercise of good governance, People’s National Congress Reform member, Volda Lawrence said Friday.
During a press briefing, Lawrence said that even though it claims to be a ‘democratic administration’, it has signally failed to conduct the business of the nation in a timely and transparent manner and render itself accountable to the Guyanese people.
“This regime has presided over the now endemic and rampant corruption, at all levels of public activity in the post-independence history of this nation.”

The Auditor General’s report, for 2007, she said, is a reminder that it has engaged in an “orgy of corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, illegal spending, and the abuse of the relevant financial rules and regulations.”
“Contracts have been overpaid, unspent funds have not been refunded and large sums of money are being returned by our overseas missions.”
The contingencies fund, she added, continues to be abused with sums of money being drawn from it to meet expenditure that do not meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the Act.
The Auditor General has pointed out, she said, that some $3.945B was drawn from the fund by way of 138 advances.

“All in all, the Report paints a dismal picture of a most corrupt Administration.”
It must be the concern of every Guyanese that the national accounts for 2007 have once again been presented late to the National Assembly, Lawrence pointed out, adding that the Auditor General has continued to speak out about the lack of staff.
This is being done even as the President continues to direct the Auditor General to provide services for special audits across the country, she said.
“It must be noted that the complement of staff for the Auditor General’s office stands at 226, while the actual staffing situation is only 114 members. This situation is scandalous.”
The Auditor General’s office must be given the staff required for it to deliver the national accounts on time, she urged.

“The position of Auditor General should be filled by a qualified person, who is independent and who is prepared to carry out his duties without fear or favour.”
On June 5, the Auditor General of Guyana (ag), Deodat Sharma, presented the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran, with a copy of the completed 2007 report.
It was however pointed out that problems highlighted in previous Auditor General Reports, have recurred in the latest version that was laid in the National Assembly.
According to Sharma, the Contingency Fund is still being abused; there are still overpayments on contracts, missing vouchers, “old bank accounts not being closed as yet, especially those big overdrafts that continue.”

He said that the proceeds from the lotto company are still not paid into contingency fund; and those funds are still being abused.
The report was delayed this year because of the staff constraints at the Audit Office. However, Mr. Sharma promised to present the 2008 report by December.
Sharma also stated that the first value-for-money audit will be handed over come next month.
The Public Accounts Committee is currently scrutinising the 2006 report, which was replete with questionable scenarios at the various Ministries.
The 2006 report was used by the opposition to accuse the government of massive corruption.

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