Works Ministry’s sale of duty-free vehicle comes under PAC microscope

Works Ministry representatives came in for criticism from members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday, when the illegal sale and cannibalism of vehicular assets belonging to the state came under scrutiny.

Discrepancies flagged in the Auditor General’s 2011 Report on the Ministry included the sale of a Toyota Carina AT 192, bearing registration number PJJ 3886, which was sold without proper adjudication of the Ministry, while trucks owned by the ministry were cannibalized without conformity to regulations.

According to the ministry’s written response to the discrepancy, vehicle PJJ 3886 was purchased by Lin Xinimin, Construction Manager of China Civil Engineering Corporation, the contracting for the construction of the Intern-ational Conference Centre, which was funded by a Grant by the People’s Republic of China.

The vehicle was bought on November 3rd 2004, and the ministry’s response states that it was sold by Xinimin to “Dorine Welcome” on July 7th 2009, following the completion of the Conference Centre.

Engineering Consultant Walter Willis, who was part of the team representing the ministry, further explained that when the Grant was given, the corporation requested that duty free concessions be granted on the importation of materials needed for the project, and to purchase the car. The waiver of the duty for the vehicle was handled by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), which registered the vehicle in the name of the ministry.

Although the vehicle was sold in 2009, the ministry admitted that it only became aware of the sale in mid-2012, when a request was made to transfer the vehicle’s registration to Welcome.

Willis suggested that the sale of the vehicle might have been allowed because the ministry’s staff was under the impression that the vehicle belonged to Xinimin.

Government Whip and PAC member Gail Teixeira, who expressed her bewilderment at the situation, said the explanation was unacceptable.

She noted that the vehicle was purchased with part of the Grant-funds provided to the Govern-ment of Guyana by China, and said that though it was purchased for use by Xinimin, it was and still is the property of the Government of Guyana.

It was for that reason, she explained, that vehicle was registered in the name of the ministry.

As a result, she said the matter needs to be placed into the hands of the police and the person responsible dealt with accordingly. “This should never have happened,” she told the panel of representatives.

Willis said that efforts are being made to retrieve the vehicle but that those efforts have not yet produced results. Teixeira’s fellow PPP/C and PAC member Bibi Shadick suggested that the ministry ask GRA if any licence were issued for a vehicle bearing the aforementioned plates in 2013, as this might be an effective way of recovering the vehicle.

The Auditor General’s report also found that “two trucks GMM 8442 and GMM 8443 and vehicle PDD 6832” were “cannibalized without conformity to regulations.

Explaining what transpired in its written response to the Audit Office’s queries, the ministry said “these were considered uneconomical to operate and steps were taken to dispose of them. At the same time, some trucks which were acquired from China through National Hard-ware were down because of scarcity of spares.

As a consequence, parts were taken from the two trucks to make three Chinese trucks operational in order to avoid further delays in the execution of the Ministry’s work program.”

Asked who authorized the cannibalism of the trucks, Works Ministry Permanent Secretary Balraj Balram told the committee that approval was sought from and given by its Chief Mechanical Engineer. Neermal Rekha, Financial Secretary in the Finance Ministry seemed quite annoyed by Balram’s explanation. Weighing in on the matter, he said that the laws state clearly that only the Financial Secretary is authorized to give such permission.

Upon hearing this, Balram told the committee that he had sent such a request to the Financial Secretary but had gotten no response.

At this point Committee Chairman Carl Greenidge reminded Balram that not too long ago he told the committee that he believed the Chief Mechanical Engineer to be the authority on this matter.

Rekha said that the Finance Ministry takes pains to inform the various permanent secretaries of the various financial regulations, and lamented the fact that many of them continue to act outside the laws.








More in Local News

default placeholder

Two charged over murder of Mahdia miner

Shane Mc Almont, 33 years and Marlon Joseph called ‘Short Man’, 28 years, both of 111 Miles Mahdia, Potaro were charged today with Murder and Accessory to Murder respectively committed on Shawn Clarke between 2016-07-10 to 2016-07-22 at 111 Miles Mahdia, Potaro, the police say.

default placeholder

Two St Lucia cub scouts injured in accident

The police say they are investigating a serious accident which occurred about 1210h. today at Woolford Avenue, involving motor car PSS 1236 and two St.

default placeholder

Lightning suspected in power outage -GPL

At approximately 20:56 hours last evening, the Guyana Power and Light says a line trip along two Kingston feeders (F3 and F4) resulted in an interruption in the supply of electricity to customers in Kingston, Cummingsburg, Albertown, Lacytown and Werk-en-Rust.

Bharrat Jagdeo

Jagdeo stands by NY statements

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo last night stood by statements he had made in New York about discrimination against Indo-Guyanese which the APNU+AFC government has described as race-baiting.

City Hall

Despite higher revenue, city still faces deficit

City Hall amassed a whopping $1.29 billion in revenue for the first six months of the year but continues to operate at a deficit and some city councillors are frustrated at their inability to access detailed information on the city’s expenditure.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo addressing the audience 

Gov’t condemns Jagdeo for race baiting

The Government of Guyana (GoG) yesterday condemned Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo for “race baiting,” after he claimed that there is “an assault on people of Indian origin” during a speech at an event in New York recently.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: