PAC sets sights on state agencies

–  over $4B held in special accounts

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Carl Greenidge has asked Finance Secretary Neermal Rekha to provide a list of all agencies that have failed to transfer funds into the Consolidated Fund for 2010, after the Auditor General found that over $4 billion was still being held in special accounts.

The request was made at a sitting of the PAC on October 31, during which the committee dealt with issues spoken of in the 2010 Auditor General’s Report.

Carl Greenidge

“Among the biggest of the problems was the failure to transfer some $4.416 billion to the Consolidated Fund from 11 special accounts. No satisfactory explanation was provided for this situation. The meeting called on the Treasury to attend to this matter,” a source who was at the meeting informed this newspaper.

The meeting began by examining the comments in the executive summary of the Auditor General’s report. Greenidge asked if Auditor General Deodat Sharma could assure the meeting that all the agencies holding funds for the Consolidated Fund had been accounted for and audited.

This newspaper was told that Sharma said that he could not give that assurance because his audit had been selective. “When the Finance Secretary was asked the same question, since it is his office which has oversight of these issues, he could not give this assurance either and said that he had not considered the matter,” the source informed this newspaper.

Greenidge was said to have expressed surprise at this and noted that the PAC had to be worried that all the monies due to the Consolidated Fund may not have been received. As a result, the Finance Secretary Rekha was asked to provide a list of all the agencies in question, including the National Frequency Manage-ment Unit (NFMU), the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation (CJIA) and the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), for consideration by the Committee.

Greenidge also expressed concern over sums of up to $550.02 million being disbursed “for purposes not consistent with the law.”

Stabroek News learnt that the meeting agreed to pursue the specific instances where agencies and the Finance Secretary had undertaken such expenditure. “The Finance Secretary was unable to explain why such a large sum could have been disbursed although it did not meet the legal standards,” the source said.

According to the source, another exchange occurred over the sum recorded in the report as contingent liabilities for entities that no longer existed.

“The Accountant General claimed that reconciling the accounts was taking a long time and the Chairman sought to find out whether there was a staffing problem. The Accountant General claimed that the information was not always available,” this newspaper was informed.

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