PAC’s and Audit Office’s uphill task

first_imgDear Editor,The current difficulties being experienced by members of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament in getting information regarding millions of dollars in funds provided by Central Government since 2015 to the Georgetown Mayor and City Council, though disappointing and worrying should come as no surprise to anyone in this country.Financial management at the Georgetown Municipality has to be the worst not just in Guyana, but surely breaks a record in this region and possibly across the globe.The fact that City Hall’s yearly budget is never published in a detailed way to be scrutinized by the public is no oversight on the part of the Council, it is deliberate. The fact that Council gives out hundreds of millions of dollars yearly in contracts without adherence to the policies and guidelines of the National Procurement & Tender Administration (NPTA) of Guyana is no mistake on their part, it is intentionally and knowingly done in order to award grossly bloated contracts to friends and family.It is just unimaginable that the Council would have been allowed to avoid having its accounts, its financial records and its systems audited during the life of this Council and the previous Council from 1994 to now. Which other public entity in this world would be allowed such laxity?But most worrying in all of this is that in spite of this well-known negligence and venality that has been going on at City Hall, successive central governments have been bailing them out with billions of dollars over the last 24 years without insisting that their books be audited. Simply incredible!Expenditure allocated by Parliament for the Ministry of Communities should have never been handed over to the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown, without strict conditionality and should have been stringently monitored every step of the way. Handing over hundreds of millions of dollars to the City Council was asking for trouble, the trouble that the PAC is now encountering.The members of the PAC should not expect answers or explanations to the discrepancies discovered any time soon, because the Council is not accustomed and is unwilling to answer to anyone regarding its errant behaviour.The Audit Office of Guyana has admitted that it has been awaiting the supply of the documents for several months from the Georgetown Municipality. It must be pellucid by now that none are forthcoming.I wish the Public Accounts Committee and the Audit Office of Guyana, the best of luck in unraveling the mysteries of the Georgetown Municipality. There are so many secrets there, so many hidden facts that a book could be written of the City Council.Sincerely,James Mc Onnelllast_img

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