Auditors have no knowledge of any corruption at GECOM

Dear Editor,

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) takes the opportunity to respond to the article titled `Auditor General zeroes in on GECOM’ which was published in the Kaieteur News of Wednesday, July 7, 2010.

This article commences with and proceeds to refer to alleged corrupt practices at GECOM.  This is followed (in the article) by references to GECOM’s responses to the said allegations when they first appeared in the media earlier this year.  This is followed by discrepancies associated with financial administration as documented in the Auditor General’s 2008 Report.

With respect to the above, it is imperative that we note the following:-

1.    Since we are not aware of any call for or any situation that warrants a forensic audit, we do not consider Kaieteur News’ speculative comment that GECOM “may escape a forensic audit, despite the fact that allegations of corruption have been levelled at the organisation” worthy of any great response.

2.       Notwithstanding the above (1), one should mention that it is routine for GECOM, like any other Budget Agency, to respond to relevant discrepancies documented in the Auditor General’s Report.  This we have been doing every year upon receipt of such Reports.

3.       GECOM has taken cognizance of the discrepancies documented in the 2008 Auditor General’s Report to which Mr. Gocool Boodoo has already responded.  The Commission will shortly be meeting with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) with a view to bring closure to any outstanding concerns emanating from the Auditor General’s Report.  The Commission is confident that the concerns would be addressed to the satisfaction of all concerned.

4.       As acknowledged in the article at reference, GECOM had responded to similar allegations earlier this year by publishing a full page advertisement in the four local daily newspapers pointing out that :-

There was (is) no “Massive corruption involving $$M underway” at GECOM as was published in the April 4, 2010 issue of the Kaieteur News.

GECOM had discussed the concerns expressed by President Bharrat Jagdeo, pertaining to the procurement of items through single sourcing methods.  GECOM documented that all of its procurement procedures had met the requirements enshrined in the National Procurement and Tender Administration Act No. 8 of 2003.

As is required by the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act No. 20 of 2003, GECOM established and has in place a functional Internal Audit Section with staff that are tasked with the responsibility to ensure that overall financial management is done in keeping with the legal provisions enshrined both in this Act and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Act No. 8 of 2003.

The Accounting Officer appears before the Public Accounts Committee at Parliament to justify its budgetary allocations and expenditure.  The Commission never had any problem as an outcome of this statutory requirement.

GECOM prides itself with the reputation of procuring goods and services with the approval of the Central Tender Board and/or the Cabinet as necessary.  There has never been any departure from this statutory procedure.

There are extremely few instances relative to the many financial transactions undertaken by GECOM, which necessitate single sourcing.  The latter must be approved by both the Central Tender Board and Cabinet.  This was done in the case of the $24.6 million referenced by the Kaieteur News.

GECOM is in possession of an Integrated Financial Management and Accounting System (IFMAS) Report, dated April 9, 2010, which clearly shows (i) that GECOM’s finances are in order, and (ii) that monies released to GECOM, that which was spent, and the remaining balances are fully reconciled. This Report was received from the Ministry of Finance i.e. the implementer of the IFMAS.

Based on the article in question, which was published in the April 4, 2010 issue of the Kaieteur News, Mr. Gocool Boodoo, Chief Election Officer had written the Auditor General a letter dated April 6, 2010 inviting him (the Auditor General) to conduct a special audit of GECOM’s accounts to determine whether there has been any breach in the procurement procedures used by GECOM as was alleged in the Kaieteur News.  As reported in the article published in the Kaieteur News of Wednesday, July 7, 2010, the Auditor General acknowledged that this was done and that action was taken by his Department accordingly.

GECOM’s accounts are audited annually by the Office of the Auditor General.  In fact, Auditors from this Office are currently working on GECOM’s accounts at the Commis-sion’s Head Office. They have no knowledge of any corruption at GECOM.

GECOM has always and will continue to conduct its administrative and technical affairs in a transparent manner which could withstand forensic scrutiny.    Accordingly, GECOM will give maximum cooperation pertaining to the conduct of any Forensic Audit of its operations – financial or other wise – should this ever become a necessity.

Yours faithfully,
Vishnu Persaud
Public Relations Officer
GECOM

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