Audit office probing Region 8 over millions in unverified payments to Parika supplier

The Audit Office is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding 60 payments to a supplier, totalling $33.663 million, for which the Region Eight administration cannot properly account.

According to the Auditor General’s 2016 report, the sum relates to purchases from a supplier based in Parika. The region, when asked, was able to provide only 10 payment vouchers, totalling $9.5 million, for audit examination.

This same supplier received $2.432 million in payment, inclusive of $1.934 million in relation to field items purchased. However, the payment voucher bore no evidence of the Accountant General’s examination, no cheque number, no evidence of the items being entered into the Goods Received Book nor any evidence of Regional Tender Board approval. Despite this, the voucher was passed for payment.

In addition, audit checks revealed that the prices quoted per item on the Requisition to Purchase were higher than other suppliers the Regional Administration usually purchased from.

These are just two of the 69 payment vouchers totalling $81.411 million chosen for audit examination. In all, the sum of $508.574 million was budgeted for in 2016 for Office and Field Supplies and $483.874 million was spent.

This is the same region where an investigation was launched into the school feeding program at Kato. Though it was reported that $44 million was spent, only amounts totalling $9.770 million were verified as having been received and brought to account in the records at Kato, resulting in difference of $34.230 million.

Additionally, while the Regional Accounting Unit (RAU) and the Regional Executive Officer’s Office fall under Programme 1 – Regional Administration, expenses relating to travelling and subsistence, amounting to $13.658 million for the staff of the Unit, were charged to all five programmes, while audit checks revealed that the staff of the Regional Administration were claiming $4,000 for accommodation whenever they reported to Georgetown for official duties even though the address on their receipts reflected the address listed in their personal files as their home addresses.

The Administration responded to this observation by stating the former Regional Executive Officer had granted the $4,000 as a concession and approved the staff of the Accounting Unit to remain in Georgetown for extended periods of time so that funds had to be utilised from the other programmes to facilitate this.

The Auditor General also highlighted the region’s failure to include quantities of drugs required on the list which accompanied their procurement warrant to the Ministry of Public Health.

This failure resulted in a mere $2.950 million of the $30.672 million budgeted for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies being spent.

“At the time of audit examination in July, 2017, the Regional Administration only had a small amount of items in stock. As a result, it was difficult to ascertain if drugs and medical supplies were adequately reaching the population,” the report concluded.

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