Passport Office Forensic Audit Auditors found no evidence of Fraud

– recommends separation of police work from immigration
Forensic auditors who recently examined the records of the Central Immigration and Passport Office of Guyana say there was no evidence of fraud at the office, but highlighted several minor irregularities, relating mainly to breach in procedures.
The 29-page audit report which was made public Wednesday by the Ministry of Finance stated that there were some issues that need to be addressed to ensure the effectiveness of the office.
“In the course of our audit and our examination of documents and records, our audit team found no evidence of any malfeasance or any fraudulent activity,” the report stated.
It however noted that there needs to be urgent action on the key findings which can be implemented without delay, including redefining the organisation’s structure.
Police v Immigration
A recommendations by the auditors is for there to be a separation of the functions of the police from that of the immigration:
“Police personnel now fill the role of immigration officers at the passport office and points of entry/exit. Consideration may have to be given in due course to separate the duties with employees of the Department of Citizenship being full time immigration and passport officers and not policemen/policewomen seconded to passport office or airports/seaports.”
It noted that policemen/women now seconded may have to be given the option to remain as policemen/women or be fulltime passport and immigration officers.
“To go with this decentralisation of services and to ensure that the functions of each division are competently performed, effective training of all staff should be mounted and carried out over time. The training programmes may include preparing and issuing procedure manuals for processes and activities that are considered key to the successful functioning of the section/division,” it added.
On the issue of Citizenship, the auditors said there were some instances where applicants were granted citizenship without meeting all the requirements.
The requirements are Police Clearance; Income Tax Liability Statement; National Insurance Scheme Compliance Statement; Copy of spouse’s Passport, Copy of Spouse’s Birth Certificate; and Marriage Certificate.
“It was  observed that even though some applicants not meeting all the requirements, approval for citizenship was granted in these instances,” it report cited.
The auditors recommended that in future, all applicants for citizenship should meet all requirements as stipulated, subject to ministerial discretionary power.
It said while there were no major issues with regards to the issuance of passports, there were instances where records are not properly kept.
“The original ‘cancelled’ receipts in 23 Receipt Books were not appended in the respective books which contravenes Financial Regulations,” the auditors wrote. It recommended that upon cancelling a receipt, all copies should be retained in the Receipt Book in accordance with Financial Regulations. “Besides this adverse observation, over the period under review Passports in general were approved and issued to applicants who have met the Requirements. Hence the controls and governance systems appear to be operating efficiently,” it stated. The report also recommended that there be a review of the organisational structure of the passport office among others. “In the past, the position of Chief Immigration Officer was held by the Commissioner of Police. This will require change as a result of the establishment of the Department of Citizenship and the separation of functions. One suggestion (and it seems logical under the new structure) is (iv) that the Head of Citizenship Immigration and Passport services could fill that role,” it stated