Forensic audits have cost $133m

-Jordan supplies info to Parliament

The Government of Guyana has spent in excess of $133M on the forensic audits they commissioned into state entities after they assumed office in May of this year.

This is according to information provided on Thursday to the National Assembly by Finance Minister Winston Jordan. Jordan was answering written questions posed by PPP/C Parliamentarian, Juan Edghill.

In ten questions, Edghill sought to establish among other things the cost and terms of reference for each audit commissioned.

Juan Edghill
Juan Edghill

Asked to say exactly how much money was spent as well as the auditors contracted to carry out the audits, the government revealed that a total of $133,045,900 was spent on the 45 audits financed by the Government of Guyana.

According to the minster’s answer, accounting firms Ram and McRae Chartered Accountants, Nigel Hinds Financial Services and Dr Anand Goolsarran received several of the auditing contracts.

Ram and McRae received a total of eight contracts valued at $40,250,000.

Nigel Hinds Financial Services received seven contracts valued $25M while former Auditor General, Goolsarran, was awarded four contracts valued over $7M.

Other auditors contracted include HLB Seebarran and Company, Harryram Parmessar, Nizam Ali and Company, Dru Bahadur and company and TSD Lall and Company.

The largest contract sum of $8,049,800 was awarded for the auditing of the financial operation and functioning of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation while $7,350,000 was awarded for the auditing of the Guyana Gold Board.

According to Minister Jordan the audits are being done in accordance with Section 4 (4) of the 2004 Audit Act which states in part that “Government’s right to conduct or cause to be conducted internal audits remains unimpaired.” He also noted that in addition to that legal authority Cabinet approved the forensic audit of selected entities, projects and funds.

The Minister further stated that a generic terms of reference was prepared by the Ministry of Finance and approved by the Cabinet while the procurement procedure followed in awarding the contracts was the single source option – in accordance with Section 28 (b) of the 2003 Procurement Act.

“Qualified and available individuals/Accounting Firms were identified to conduct the internal forensic audits. These individuals and firms were allowed to study entities and submit cost proposals,” said Jordan.

Asked by Stabroek News if he was satisfied with the response received from the Minister, Edghill, a former minister in the ministry of finance under the PPP/C, said no.

He noted that there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed.

He said that it is clear from the explanation that they have treated these forensic audits as internal audits.

“They have noted in the answer that the individuals/firms do not need to have a practice certificate [from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana) since the results of the audits do not require the expression of an opinion on the financial statement of the entity being audited yet every day we are being treated to an opinion or recommendation being reported in the press,” Edghill said.

He also expressed concern about the “single sourcing” of the auditors and the determination of the prices. According to Edghill the response that “look we have a limited number of people who can do this job and we let them examine the work and tell us the price” is not enough. “The prices vary widely. I’m not sure that we are getting the best value for money,” Edghill noted.

He further noted that the explanation that the terms of reference were prepared by the Ministry of Finance and approved by Cabinet as well as the information about the qualifications of Minister in the Ministry of Finance Jaipaul Sharma, who is supervising the audits, give him cause for concern.

“I’m not trying to personally attack anyone just trying to ensure that we have a high level of competency in the work being conducted,” Edghill said, adding that there are still a number of questions to be answered.

“This is the precedent they have set that information have to extracted like pulling teeth. The transparency and accountability promised was just rhetoric,” he declared.

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