Former Minister and now former MP, Dr Rupert Roopnarine, in a National Assembly sitting of December 8, 2016, said in a statement that he was asked by Granger “to sit as a Director on the Board of the Homestretch Development Inc (HDI)”. Mind you, HDI is a private company. Therefore, it is most intriguing as to the source of authority to substantiate why a public official was asked to sit on a private Board by his public service boss. Who are the shareholders of HDI?
Can the Guyanese people now understand why we must take every word of Granger with a grain of salt since it is populated with much half-tongue and half-truths? As is evidential today, there is a crisis of credibility in team Granger on many fronts. I seek to support my conclusion with hard evidence.
In November 2016, Granger made a public statement about this company (HDI) by saying that “there is nothing secretive or criminal about this company” and that his Government will be very forthcoming with information on this company. Compare his words to the 2017 Auditor General Report and you, Editor, be the judge.
This is what the national audit team had to say and I quote:
“Payment vouchers to support expenditure totalling $107,119,000 ($107 million) were not produced for audit examination. As such, the completeness, accuracy, and validity of this amount could not be determined.” The 2017 AG Report further stated “In addition, the amount of $500 million was paid to HDI in 2017 by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to enable HDI to meet its obligation to its creditors. However, there was no documentation attached to the payment vouchers to indicate the works done, supervisory checks carried out on the works, as well as certification that the works were satisfactorily completed. In the circumstances, the correctness, accuracy, and validity of the payments made could not be determined.” (Source 2017 AG Report)
I do not know the source of Granger’s ethics training, but clearly one can conclude that there are some serious holes in his statements. What is absolutely clear is that there is no commitment on the part of his team to the concept of transparent and accountable for their actions while in public office. This is just one of the many examples where members of team Granger operated under the misconception that they have a transport over all of Guyana and its resources and are not accountable to the people of the land.
As a member of the rational world who has direct training in internal control systems, it behoves me to outline the basic minimum principles that must be followed when payments are made for services rendered. Before any bills/invoices are paid, we must verify if the goods or services were legitimately received. Can Granger, as the CEO, or this team or any of his officers, say if $500 million of goods and services supposedly provided by HDI were legitimately received? Who is hiding this evidence from the Auditor General? Has the evidence already been burnt?
It is basic common sense that before any vendor’s (in this case HDI) payment request is entered in the system, three fundamental questions should be asked by the accounting officer?
1. Can we satisfactorily say what is being paid for?
2. Can we easily identify what was received?
3. Were the proper computations made on the invoices?
So before a payment is made, you should, at minimum, have a requisition, purchase order, certificate estimating the value of the work completed signed by a competent engineer and countersigned by the independent engineering supervisor. Did the accounting officer of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure follow all steps in ensuring that the payment is valid, complete and accurate?
The Audit Office wrote the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Kenneth Jordan on July 19, 2018, (who is the accounting officer), requesting documentation detailing the works done, supervisory checks of the said works, as well as certification that works were satisfactorily completed but got a vague response that the Ministry was not involved in the operations of HDI; hence, it did not have any information detailing supervisory checks or their methodology of determining that works were satisfactorily completed. So why did the Ministry make the payment if it cannot verify the work completed? Upon whose instructions was $500 million paid?
As of the date of this letter, I was advised that no further documentation was provided to the Auditor General by Kenneth Jordan on this matter and thus, I encourage the Audit Office to ensure that they pursue this matter diligently and ensure that it is included as a special investigation in the 2018 Audit Report.