Audit Reports of GPL, GEA and GRDB handed over to Cabinet-Prompt action expected says Minister Trotman

GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, January 26, 2017

Audit reports for the Guyana Power and Light (GPL)Company, Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) and Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB)were presented to Cabinet last Tuesday by Finance Minister Winston Jordan. This was announced by Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman at the weekly post- Cabinet Media briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency, today. The Minister informed the media that the audit reports were perused and it was found that that in all the cases, further investigations were warranted into financial irregularities.

Cabinet, the Minister said, requested that the Minister of Public Infrastructure (David Patterson) follow up on relevant issues with the Board of Directors of the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated, “whilst the Minister of public Security was requested to forward the reports of the Guyana Rice Development Board and the Guyana Energy Agency to the Guyana Police Commissioner for further investigations.” He noted that the Minister within the Ministry of Finance Jaipaul Sharma has already handed over the GRDB’s audit report to the Police Commissioner.

Responding to a question about the heads of the audited agencies being sent home, until investigations are completed, Minister Trotman said that there is always the presumption that all parties are innocent until proven guilty. This is in keeping with natural and constitutional law, he stated, “I believe that if at the level of the Police Force there is the belief that charges can be laid then at that stage something is expected”.

It was explained that at the GRDB for example, a number of highly placed officials resigned since the Government took office in May of 2015, hence the latter issue may be mute in some cases. Minister Trotman explained that the GRDB, over a period of several years had funneled almost half a billion US dollars through its coffers, “coming through the Petro- Caribe Fund.” He added that the(audit) presentation to Cabinet revealed what were described as “glaring anomalies and what could be serious financial situations involving loans without (there) being any paper or traceable signs that these loans were approved by a board or whether there were any promissory notes accompanying them”.

The Minister further stated that some persons in the GRDB appeared to have used funds to conduct a lucrative trade in foreign currency. He explained, “If you’re talking about half a billion US dollars, you could imagine if you are selling at a rate that is above two or three dollars above that which you are declaring it to be, and having access to those two or three dollars. The multiplying effect over several million should give you an idea.” “There were several instances like this”, he noted, “which cry out for attention.”

The Minister acknowledged that the public “has heard this before”, referring to claims of impropriety after audits were conducted and the appointment of special prosecutors to pursue these cases. However, he said that the Guyana Police Force, maybe be overburdened, hence government is considering whether to boost budgetary allocations to the law enforcement arm of the state to hire more detectives for instance, or to engage the services of private entities to assist in for example, collating documents, doing research or carrying out investigations within the ambit of the law. He also recalled that a number of reports have been dispatched to the Special Organised Crimes Unit (SOCU) agency, “which seems to have its hands full”, and active consideration is also being made about, “buttressing (SOCU) so it can be more effective.”

Minister Trotman  placed on record, Government’s appreciation for the work that it has been doing thus far and added that, “Cabinet may have sent too many reports but such is the nature of what has been unearthed to date”. The forensic audits were several of many launched last year into the operations of state agencies and a number of state funded projects under the previous administration.

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