CIty Hall still withholds AG requested audit records

…Mayor unaware of Council’s status

The Audit Office of Guyana is still awaiting documents from the City Hall to complete an audit into its financial affairs, and this process remains delayed while the Mayor is unaware as to why or when these records will be provided.

Audit Office of Guyana

When contacted on Friday, Auditor General Deodat Sharma told this publication that the audit is still delayed because officials of the Council are yet to submit relevant documents.
“It is delayed. Once we get the records, we can continue. They have to supply the documents that were needed so it is ongoing,” he stated.
However, Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine could not supply the specifics on when Council plans to meet these requirements. Furthermore, he positioned that the Town Clerk is responsible for those undertakings.
“I am unaware of that. The Town Clerk would know,” the Mayor positioned.

Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine

The decision to conduct an audit stemmed from the alarming findings of the Commission of Inquiry, which exposed financial irregularities and mismanagement at the Council. Lone Commissioner, retired Justice Cecil Kennard had called for the Audit Office of Guyana to conduct a forensic audit into the entity’s management even as officers are being disciplined.
Recently, there have been reports in the media that City Hall has failed to submit a large percentage of the required documents for the Audit Office to continue the inspection.
During the CoI hearings, financial records from the Audit Office were presented by the Audit Manager, Dhanraj Persaud, which showed unaccountability for millions of dollars.
As he delved into the matter, Persaud showed that Central Government, through the Communities Ministry, had supplied funds for city restoration projects at a sum of $300 million in 2015 and in 2016, another $200 million was injected into the initiative which totalled an overall balance of $500 million.
However, when checks were made into the pieces of evidence presented for the expenditure of these projects, $70.489 million was unaccounted for.
“For 2016, Council did not produce evidence to account for amount totalling $70.489 million,” he said.
It was related that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has a history of failing to source records. In the course of six years which date back to the period from 2006 to 2011, there have been no financial records for the disbursement of monies at City Hall. Additionally, for the year 2005, documents were submitted but an audit could not be completed because the files were “damaged”.
Persaud said, “A few documents were submitted [in 2005] but those are the ones that were damaged”.
The Audit Manager stood before the Commission as he explained what was relayed to them by the Council, adding that the organisation would’ve inquired about the absence of the report but no explanation was pronounced. In 2012, records were also damaged but from 2013 to 2015, some amount of files was presented for auditing, for which they were able to inspect and extract information.
According to the Auditor General’s 2015 Report, there were several “discrepancies” in the way the sums of money allotted to the City Council had been spent during that year.
After examining 212 payment vouchers, a number of inconsistent points were reportedly found, including hundreds of instances wherein there was no evidence that the validity of payment vouchers had been certified by the accountant or other authorised officer before being payable.