Speaker receives 2019 Auditor General Report
─substantial work still completed
─ remaining performance audits to be completed in 2021
Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Manzoor Nadir, today, received the 2019 Auditor General report from Auditor General, Mr. Deodat Sharma at Parliament Buildings after a delay of over two months.
In presenting the 16th Report, the Auditor General noted several limitations that arose due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a result of the pandemic affecting the country and the related measures under the Public Health Ordinance, which included rotation of workers and travel restrictions, our access to Regions One, Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten and the physical verification of projects in these regions could not have been undertaken, resulting in severe limitation in the scope of these audits,” the Auditor General said.
He further noted a limitation of the scope of the audits conducted at the Ministries and Departments due to minimal staff on duty, the restricted office hours and limited physical interaction mandated by the COVID-19 protocols.
In terms of performance audits, four started this year, which would conclude in 2021. These are the Review of Council for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET); Preparedness for the Marine Oil Spill Response; Maternal Health Care Services at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC); and An Assessment of the Hinterland School Feeding Programme.
These audits aimed to promote accountability for results and supports the Government’s goal to adopt results-based management.
“Nevertheless, the Audit Office of Guyana, although faced with these challenges and risk of exposure to the virus, was still able to complete a substantial amount of work in order to submit our report,” Mr. Sharma said.
Three special investigations were finalised for the period October-November 2020: Ministry of Public Health – Drug Bond; Ministry of Public Infrastructure – Leguan Stelling Rehabilitation; and the Ministry of Social Protection – Sustainable Entrepreneurial Development Project (SLED).
The SLED programme initiated under the previous Government has attracted attention. Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Hon. Nigel Dharamlall had revealed that $250 million from the Programme was unaccounted for.
There are also three other investigations at varying stages of completion namely: Mayor and Councillors of the City Georgetown; Ministry of Legal Affairs – Retainers Agreement; and Ministry of the Presidency – Acquisition of Birth Certificates.
On receiving the Report, the Speaker said it would be laid at the first sitting of the National Assembly. Afterwards, it would become a public document.
The Speaker also said he hoped to see more resources used to execute more performance audits.
Initially, the Report was scheduled to be submitted by September 30, 2020.
The Audit Office of Guyana is responsible for scrutinising the use of public funds on behalf of Parliament. The Office audits accounts for all publicly-funded entities, donor-funded entities, local government agencies and trade unions in Guyana.