Now that President David Granger has disclosed that he made the decision to place the US$18M ExxonMobil signing bonus in a special account at the Bank of Guyana, the transaction should now be regularized, according to former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran.
In a statement yesterday to Stabroek News about Granger’s disclosure earlier in the day that he had made the decision for reasons of national security, (see other story on page 2), Goolsarran said that it was now time to move on and to pass the necessary legislation for an extra-budgetary fund.
After the legislation is passed, the US$18M can then be transferred to the Fund. The disclosure that the bonus was paid by ExxonMobil last year and placed in a central bank account as opposed to the Consolidated Fund has sparked criticism. Placing the money in an account outside of the Consolidated Fund is also a breach of Article 216 of the Constitution.
Goolsarran in his statement yesterday noted that in accordance with Section 39 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability (FMA) Act, an Extra-budgetary Fund may be created by an Act setting out:
(a) the officials who will undertake the financial management of the Extra-budgetary Fund, including the responsibilities and accountabilities of the officials charged with managing the Extra-budgetary Fund;
(b) the banking arrangements pertaining to the Extra-budgetary Fund;
(c) the source or sources of public moneys to be credited to the Extra-budgetary Fund;
(d) the accounting rules and auditing requirements applicable to the Extra-budgetary Fund; and
(e) the financial reporting requirements applicable to the Extra-budgetary Fund, including the reporting of financial performance both during and at the end of each fiscal year.
He said that the Act requires that officials charged with the management of an Extra-budgetary Fund shall establish close co-operation and co-ordination with the Minister and share with the Minister all relevant information necessary or desirable to ensure adherence to the principle of consolidation of Government revenues and expenditures. The Minister shall also develop detailed procedures for achieving the co-operation and co-ordination referred to above, particularly in connection with the preparation, execution and monitoring of the annual budget and the budget for each Extra-budgetary Fund.
Subject to any other law, resources of an Extra-budgetary Fund may be administered either through its own accounts in selected banks pre-approved by the Minister or through the payment and banking services of the Consolidated Fund, but shall be accounted for separately from any other resources.
Subject to any other law, the Act says that officials charged with the management of an Extra-budgetary Fund shall, with respect to that Fund:
(a) observe the accounting methodology and reporting format prescribed by the Minister;
(b) submit to the Minister and publish for general information quarterly reports on the financial operations of the Fund;
(c) make the accounts and records of the Fund available for independent audit by the Auditor General; and
(d) prepare an annual report on the financial operations of the Fund for presentation, together with the report of the Auditor General thereon, to the National Assembly and publication for general information and any other requirements stipulated by the Minister.