Forensic audit looms for Regions 2, 4, 5 spending

Local Government and Regional Development Ministry is currently working on the modalities for a forensic investigation to recover money invested on some projects undertaken by three administrative regions. This decision was taken following the findings of the 2019 Auditor General Report which revealed that Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) had failed to achieve the goals of their respective projects.
Speaking with DPI, Minister Nigel Dharamlall said the ministry will soon write to the Auditor General to request an investigation as soon as possible.
“There are some projects which we believe were mishandled and mismanaged, for want of a better description. There was massive corruption in some of these projects. One that comes very quickly to mind is the land utilisation project in Region Five between the period of 2016 to 2019; over $90 million was spent on it, but less than $1.8 million in return.”
In 2018, Region Five established a model farm to boost its economy with training opportunities through work study programmes for high school students.
The Regional Administration intended to introduce the model farm in three phases over a 13-year period as finances were provided.
Since its establishment on leased state lands at Naarstigheid, West Coast Berbice, Minister Dharamlall said the farm has provided agro-supplies to schools and hospitals. It also sold its products through various ventures. However, he added that it is unclear how the administration operated the farm at a loss, when it also employed 28 persons.
“There has to be an investigation to find out what exactly happened to the monies given. So, wherever the chips fall, I think we will pursue those culpable,” he said.
Moving forward, the Ministry will put systems in place to ensure accountability and transparency.