Auditor General begins probe into $90M police allocation

Acting Auditor General Deodat Sharma has officially launched an investigation into the $90 million allocation made to the Guyana Police Force (GPF) near the end of last year.

“We have got the documents and we have commenced the examination,” Sharma said in a comment to Stabroek News yesterday.

He added that he should be making a statement in one month’s time on the status of the probe but noted that the course that the investigation takes along the way will ultimately determine when he is able to make a pronouncement and in what form.

Deodat Sharma

Sharma had previously indicated that he might have dealt with the issue in the Auditor General’s Report on the national accounts for 2011, which would be due for release by the end of September. He had said that once it is in the public interest to do so, he could initiate an investigation into any issues regarding public funds. He had also said that the transactions for the use of the funds should be easily traceable.

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee told the National Assembly last week that there was no need for an audit of the funds, which were intended to cover transportation and food for those ranks inline prior to, during and after the November 28, 2011 elections. “I do not believe that there is any mystery about the sum of money,” he said, hours after his ministry released details of spending covered by the allocation. The release on the spending, which included breakdowns of allocations and purchases by division, was part of the ministry’s response to allegations by Divisional Commander David Ramnarine, who had publicly said that he not received any money out of the $90M allocation, triggering questions about the spending. Rohee has since called on acting Police Commissioner Leroy Brummell to discipline Ramnarine for his public comments on the issue, saying his actions are a breach of the police force’s Standing Orders.

Incoming Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Carl Greenidge had said that he would want to have the matter investigated by the Audit Office, while adding that it would be scrutinised by the parliamentary committee, because of the different explanations given and the recurring misuse of funds annually. He made reference to the misuse and misdirection of funds from the Contingencies Fund in financial papers over the terms of the PPP/C in office. He said that while the investigation is something that he would have a mind to pursue, the decision is still subject to a vote by the members of the PAC, which is yet to be constituted.

The Guyana Police Force has said it could account for the money. Police Public Relations Officer Ivelaw Whittaker, in a recent statement, rebuffed suggestions by sections of the media that there was something sinister in the handling of the monies.

Whittaker noted that during 2011, the GPF prepared a budget of proposed activities for the elections, which was submitted to the Ministry of Finance through the Ministry of Home Affairs.

He said that subsequently, supplementary provisions were received during November 2011 in the sum of $90,649,200.  He said that of this amount, a sum of $39,641,200 was for the shortfall on voted provisions and $51,008,000 was received under the line item 6261 – Local Travelling and Subsistence – which catered for the feeding of police ranks during the inline period for elections.

He noted that $8M was to facilitate the cost of travelling expenses and the remaining $43,008,000 was brought to account by the police. He said too that a total sum of $32,491,822 was drawn out to Police Divisions, Police Headquarters and Special Constabulary Headquarters to meet expenditure for the feeding of ranks. He said that Police Divisions, Police Headquarters and the Special Constabulary Headquarters were allocated cash and commodities from the Police Consumers’ Cooperative Society Ltd and other outlets for the feeding of ranks.

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