Reported statement by Auditor General on procurement breaches is astonishing

Dear Editor,

My attention is drawn to an article titled, `Breach of Procurement Act more frequent under APNU+AFC Govt’ published by online news outfit, Guyana Standard, on May 21, 2019.

According to the article, the Auditor General, Mr. Deodat Sharma is reported to have said, “I believe it is more frequent now. There are a lot of sole sourced contracts and every other day you have some issue with breaches of contractual or tender board procedures. Even the recommendations for corrective action, most of them are not being implemented.” In the absence of any knowledge of a claim by Mr. Sharma, disassociating himself with the above statement, I can only conclude that it was indeed made by him.

I hasten to add that this statement is most astonishing. The goodly Auditor General provides no evidence for his contention nor offers any comparative data to support his claim. What period is he comparing? four years of the APNU+AFC government with 23 years of the former administration?

Let me offer this fact for consideration: for the period January to May 2015, thirteen  contracts were single sourced to New GPC to the value of $4.45 billion; comparatively under this government in 2015, single sourced procurement for all agencies was 22.24 billion. In light of just this 1 example, can any right thinking citizen accept the Auditor General’s position?

Here is another fact: The APNU+AFC Government has spent nearly $150 million on forty-five forensic audits which unearthed gross financial improprieties involving among others: Guyana World Cup Inc., Carifesta, NICIL/ Privatization Unit, GPHC-Drug Procurement Operation, PetroCaribe, Atlantic Hotel Inc. (Marriott), all of which occurred under the very watchful eye of this same Auditor General, yet he has made no comment on these improprieties by the former Government? It therefore appears that the AG is cherry-picking projects, programmes, entities and governments to whom he extends scrutiny.

I wish to remind the Auditor General that the Audit Office of Guyana is the Supreme Audit Institution of Guyana, it is clothed in Article 204 of the Constitution and is designed as an independent and professional body in the government accounting chain and therefore, he is best advised to observe the spirit and letter of the code of ethics and auditing standards of the International Organization of the Supreme Audit Institutions lest he be seen to be guilty of bias, subjectivity and political influence.

Yours faithfully,

Michael B Joseph

Finance Secretary

Ministry of Finance

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