Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Carl Greenidge is alarmed that the Ministry of Finance continues to dole out annual provisions for the Government Information Agency (GINA) despite its non-submission of audited financial reports for the years 2001- 2007 and 2010 and 2011.
NCN, which according to the 2012 Auditor General’s Report last laid audited financial statements in the National Assembly in 2009, and the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), which last did same in 2010, are among other agencies found to be lagging.
Guyana’s laws require such agencies to lay in the National Assembly annual reports, which include financial statements. Yesterday’s PAC hearing was told that GINA had not laid such reports in the National Assembly for a total of nine years.
Greenidge told Stabroek News after the meeting that the non-submission of these legally required documents did not seem to impede the annual allocations requested by the Office of the President (OP) and provide by the Finance Ministry.
OP Permanent Secretary Omar Shariff, who led a delegation before the committee, acknowledged that there is indeed a substantial backlog and that there are ongoing efforts to reduce the backlog.
Greenidge however, says he cannot understand how the Ministry of Finance could have allowed the GINA to fall so far behind. Part of the irony, Greenidge added, is that GINA is one of several agencies the opposition parties have been denying allocations to via the national budgets since 2012. The Alliance for Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) have held that GINA, as well as the National Communications Network (NCN) ought to be available to them as well as they are funded with public finances.
NCN and GINA are used exclusively by government though, and the combined opposition believes this makes them undeserving of tax-payers’ money. But yesterday’s revelation falls outside of the existing concerns and Greenidge noted as much. He said the Ministry of Finance clearly has no strict criteria for the disbursement of money each year.
Had such criteria existed, he argued, the agencies may not have been this lax with the submission of their financial statements. “You also need to take into account that the agencies have not been submitting audited financial reports for a long period and that should be a condition for the disbursement of money,” Greenidge said.