PS Moore commits to rectifying financial lapses – during PAC meeting
GINA, Guyana, Monday, May 22,2017
Today, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) met with Permanent Secretaries and other Ministry officials to address various financial issues and audit queries in the National Assembly.
Among issues raised by the PAC was the move by the Office of the Prime Minister via sole sourcing, to purchase a Toyota GX Land Cruiser Wagon at a cost of $13.82M. A query was raised by Acting PAC Chairman Juan Edghill about why two separate cheques were issued in January. He asked why the two payments were made then and the vehicle was only delivered in December of 2016, several months later. The vehicle was officially registered on October 5, 2016, after arriving on September 26, 2016.
A question was asked as to why the long delay and whether permission was given to retain the 2015 money allocated for the vehicle, in 2016. In response, the PS of the Ministry of the Presidency, Abeena Moore said that an early delivery was expected, but this failed to materialise.
Seeking clarification, Ministry of Finance, Finance Secretary Dr. Hector Butts noted that permission should have been sought before such an action was taken. Dr. Butts added that the money for 2015 should have been returned and the money requested would have then been catered for in the 2016 Budget for the Ministry.
It was also noted that a letter for a waiver should have been applied for, via a letter to the National Tender Board. “A bad example was set” by the Ministry, Edghill stated, as what occurred, “can open up all kinds of speculation.” He warned that sole sourcing should not be done by the Ministry as procurement laws had to be followed. Commitments were given that the lapses which occurred would not happen again.
Money paid by the Government Information Agency (GINA) to staff for the 2015 year-end bonus was also queried by the PAC. The sum of $1.5M was used by GINA to facilitate the payment of bonuses for staff and $9.4M as a payment for debt servicing to the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL).
The question was put to GINA’s Director Beverly Alert as to why of the total $11M requested from the Contingency Fund, only $9.4M was paid to the GNNL and the rest used to pay staffers. In response, Alert noted that despite payments being approved, the money was not released in a timely manner, hence the decision to use the money to facilitate the payments.
The issue was put to the Auditor General Deodat Sharma, who said that the Contingency Fund was utilised to reimburse GINA for money spent in 2015.
Several other questions were put to PS Moore as the Ministry of the Presidency has oversight over GINA, via the Prime Minister’s office. Moore explained that she did not have the answers required at hand but gave a commitment to provide the answers within a week.
Pressed on several lapses, Moore recommitted to ensuring that the lapses, some of which occurred before her tenure, would not recur.
By: Paul McAdam