Region Four surcharges REO over Xmas party

Region Four Chairman Clement Corlette says that Regional Executive Officer (REO), Shafdar Alli spent $1.1M for a staff party in December and has refused to give an explanation.

 Clement Corlette
Clement Corlette
Shafdar Alli
Shafdar Alli

Corlette, in a press release yesterday, declared that the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) has decided to take disciplinary action against him. Alli could not be reached by Stabroek News for a comment yesterday afternoon.

According to the release, at the RDC statutory meeting on February 17, a majority decision was made to surcharge Alli for “massive unexplained expenditure for a staff party which was held on 19th December 2008”. The statement explained that Alli “caused” a Committee to be constituted and presided over by a Regional Health Officer to determine plans for a staff party. The REO never reported the findings or recommendations to the RDC for discussion and approval and neither did he consult with the Regional Chairman, the statement asserted.

It said that at the RDC’s meeting on December 16 last year, Alli was unable to submit a budget for the financing of the party since there was no voted sum under any line item. Corlette made several attempts to obtain a copy of the plan and budget for the expenditure from the REO between December 17 and 29 to no avail, the release stated. It said that on December 29, during discussions with Alli on the telephone, the REO asserted that he had lifted funds from the Programme #1 Administration, Programme # 2 Drainage and Irrigation, and Programme # 5 Health to raise $1.1M to finance the party but refused to provide the budget and party plans.

The release stated that at the RDC statutory meeting on January 20, the matter was discussed and the Council decided that the Regional Chairman should write the REO to request an explanation for the unauthorized expenditure and to state why he should not be disciplined and this was done but Alli did not reply to the letter.
At the February 17 meeting, Corlette read the letters which were sent to Alli and reported on the “disrespect” of the REO, the statement said adding that the matter was put to the floor for discussion and decision and advised that the officer could not be made to ignore the authority of the council. Alli, according to Corlette’s release, held up a copy of Act 20/2003, The Fiscal Management and Accountability Act and reportedly said “I am the Chief Accounting Officer and I can spend any or all the funds in the Region without the approval of the Council and I don’t have to account to the Regional Chairman. I am accountable to the Finance Secretary for use of government funds not the Regional Democratic Council”.

The release stated that the councillors present took “serious objections” to the attitude and statement of the Clerk to the Council and decided to institute disciplinary action against him. “Councillors and the Regional Chairman agreed, re-affirmed and asserted that the funds allocated by parliament, government ministries and agencies to the Region are the property of the RDC Region 4. The clerk/REO or Chief Accounting Officer is to preside over the funds under the supervision and direction of the RDC and or the Regional Chairman”, the release declared.

It said that a decision was made to surcharge all expenditure over $700 000 to the REO, which may have been used to finance the party. It must be noted, the statement said, that the REO also “ignored or refused to report the expenditure to the RDC Finance Committee which is chaired by Mohamed Khan- Vice Chairman of Region Four and the Vice Chairman has not protested to date”.

The statement said that the decision of the council is within its mandate and it will enforce measures of accountability against its officers.

Region Four, where the PNCR-1G has the most seats, has seen a sharing of power between it and the PPP/C. However, relations have broken down on a number of matters including expenditure. Corlette has accused Alli of acting beyond his jurisdiction.

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