It would appear as though the David Granger led Government has set its sights on another constitutional office to bear the brunt of its intimidation and bullyism. The bold, brazen and blazing headline of the State-owned Guyana Chronicle of October 18, 2016: “Jordan Flays Auditor General”, captured my attention. The Minister of Finance is an elected official appointed by the President to manage our financial affairs. He is part of the executive.
The Auditor General is a constitutional office holder empowered by our supreme law and statutes to carry out specific functions and is not subject to the authority, direction or control of the executive. This has been so since the early 2000’s when a number of legislative changes were initiated and made by the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Administration. Since then, the Ministry of Finance has had absolutely no role in the preparation, finalisation or tabling of the Auditor General’s report. Minister Jordan remained engaged as a senior official at the Ministry of Finance during the PPP/C tenure from 1992 continuously to 2007 thereabout when he departed. He is fully aware of all the progressive changes that were made to professionalise and make the Audit office fully independent.
The statements attributed to the Mr Jordan is totally out of order, insensitive, irresponsible and reeks of a level of arrogance never seen before among government Ministers in Guyana.
Some questions must be asked. I call upon the Minster to answer the following:
1. In this era, touted by the Coalition government as a “new dispensation” and “fresh approach”, does the Minister of Finance want to play a role in the editing of the Auditor General’s report?
2. Did the Ministry of Finance participate in the usual practice of responses and clarification to queries about financial statements of individual budget agencies with the Audit Office? If it did, what else Minister Jordan requires?
3. Did the Minister of Finance edit the final reports of the forensic audits initiated by the APNU/AFC government?
NB: The Minister of Finance had control over this process, even by way of sole sourcing. (Handpicking the auditors for the agencies he wanted them to audit).
4. Does the Minister of Finance believe in public accountability, transparency and good governance? If he does, why the statement that he does not have to give an explanation to the Auditor General for monies spent from the Contingency Fund?
The people want to know. Perhaps the coalition Government may wish to explain its position on these matters, inclusive of its stance on those statements made by Mr Jordan at his Press Conference.
The citizens of Guyana are aware that the Auditor General’s report represents the findings of an independent and autonomous constitutional office and should be treated as such.
This Report will be examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament, where every accounting officer from every ministry, every region and every statutory budget agency is afforded an opportunity to defend their positions and actions.
This recent attack by Minister Jordan is another in a series that openly displays arrogance, insincerity and the level of deception practiced by the APNU/AFC government on the people of Guyana. Mr Jordan must be held accountable.
Bishop Juan A Edghill,
MP, People’s Progressive