Something is radically wrong when some ministries can have huge unspent balances while others have shortfalls
If anyone, but especially former President Bharrat Jagdeo, still desires evidence of corruption in government so that remedial action can be taken, I refer him or her to the Auditor-General’s report for 2011. Based on information gleaned from and reported on in the media, the Auditor-General has made it clear that he previously cautioned the government against voting for huge sums of money that wind up being unspent and then returned the following year for fresh, huge sums of money.
The practice is not only irregular, but borders on a deliberate ploy to encourage misappropriation of funds. The Auditor General reportedly said that of the $60B allocated to 12 Ministries in the 2011 Budget, only $36B was actually spent, while $24B was still to be used by the end of the year. And here is the kicker: this was a problem that he had encountered and raised in previous reports, where several Government Ministries, are at the end of the year with significant amounts of funds available to it still from the annual budget (gtonline, October 23). Editor, if there is an unspent balance every year, why does the government keep budgeting for expenses that are not realistic and actually result in unspent balances?
The Ministry of Finance, for its part, offered the lame, worn out excuse that “considerable action was taken in 2010 with respect to the closure of bank accounts held by the government,” with 136 accounts being closed and the monies being transferred to the Consolidated Fund. But as far as the Auditor-General is concerned, there are some GY$4.3B in static or inactive accounts and should have been turned over to the Consolidated Fund. One account exists for the past 14 years with GY$372M and no activity. Another account holds GY$127M and no activity for 14 years. A third account has GY$77M to service a debt incurred during the Forbes Burnham regime, even though the debt was written off thirteen years ago. Something is radically wrong at the Finance Ministry when some ministries can have huge unspent balances while others have shortfalls every year. And while supplemental budgets are sometimes necessary, how can the government justify this scenario of financial folly by having inactive accounts or unspent balances year after year and the monies are not being sent to the Consolidated Fund? In 2011, the Finance Ministry itself shoulders blame for GY$13.7B in shortfalls. The Public Works Ministry had GY$3.3B remaining in its accounts. The Office of the President had GY$1.5B available to it at year’s end (yet it lamented and wailed about OP workers being affected by the Budget cuts), while the Agriculture Ministry had a shortfall of GY$1.5B. The Home Affairs Ministry, which was at the centre of public controversy over police shootings and the GY$90M fiasco, had over GY$800M available to it, and the Legal Affairs Ministry had over GY$500M available to it at the end of 2011. I am now aghast and appalled that the government could have taken public umbrage with cries of Guyanese being made to suffer because the parliamentary opposition earlier this year voted to cut the 2012 Budget by some GY$21B.
This kind of accounting practice is not accidental, as far as I am concerned, and it pretty much sets the stage for the ongoing misappropriation of public funds that often wind up in the pockets and purses of a handful of people. And when the public and the media cry foul about corruption in government, the government goes on the attack with staged TV debates that there is no corruption or asks for proof of the corruption. Until and unless Guyanese wake up and realize that they are being bare-facedly ripped off by their own government, there is absolutely no hope that there will be any change from their dire socioeconomic straits.
The government in Georgetown truly is having a party for plunderers, parasites, pillagers and con artists.