Saturday, March 13, 2010

$172Munaccounted for overseas travels up to 2006

$172Munaccounted for overseas travels up to 2006

March 13, 2010 | By KNews | Filed Under News

- Finance Ministry fails to submit list of outstanding advances

Several weeks after the Ministry of Finance was mandated to submit a list of all outstanding conference advances, there is still to be compliance with the order.
When the Public Accounts Committee met in early February the officials were unable to provide the information and as such were mandated to provide the information by February 15.
To date this order has been not been complied with. Checks with the Committees Division of the Parliament of Guyana confirmed this but this newspaper was reliably informed that there has been an extension.
The matter is expected to come up for hearing on Monday when the Public Accounts Committee meets again.
On the date that the order was granted, the PAC was at the time scrutinising the expenditures of the Finance Ministry when it was pointed out that on a yearly basis there are several advances made to officials for overseas trips but it is never attested to on the Ministry’s books upon their return.
Shadow Finance Minister, Winston Murray, who is also a member of that Committee, said that in the interest of transparency and accountability this should be done because it is taxpayers’ monies that are handed over to the public officials without any account of what happens to it.
He questioned, also, why it is that the Ministry does not clear old advances before issuing new ones to the officials to travel again.
This, he suggested, must be done in order to ensure transparency, and questioned what happens to the money, “has it gone into their pockets?”
Murray was adamant that while this could very well not be the case until the accounts are straightened out then that inference could fairly be drawn.
“This is public money given to public officials to go overseas,” Murray reiterated.
According to the 2006 Auditor General report, “Conference advances continued to be uncleared long after they have been granted.”
It was pointed out that at the time of that audit, in March 2007, there were 377 advances totaling $91.1M for the years 2003 to 2005 that remained unclear.
During the period under review, namely 2006, according to the Conference Advances Register, amounts totaling $180.103M were expended on 287 overseas conferences and official visits of which 131 advances totaling $57.603M remained outstanding at the time of reporting.
The following year’s report stated that the Conference Advances Register revealed that for 2007 there were 138 advances totaling $51.239M, which were still to be cleared.
This was compounded by the fact that 195 advances totaling $64.973M for the years 2004 to 2006 are still to be cleared.
The Ministry at that time had stated that while some of the recipients were tardy in clearing their advances, others had submitted documentation to clear their advances, but due to the Department’s staffing situation, there were delays.
It was further stated that the delinquent officers were written to, requesting them to submit documentation to clear their advances.

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