$2.2M overpaid to Bourda Market vendor for supplies to Amerindian Hostel

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Written by Devina Samaroo

The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs (MoIPA) prepared a voucher of $251,200 to a Bourda Market vendor for the supply of fruits and vegetables for the Amerindian Hostel but instead ended up paying a whopping $2.512M – and the entity is still in the process of recovering the overpayment.

These disclosures were made during the hearing of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today (June 12, 2017).

The transaction, which was included in the sum of $47.058M budgeted for dietary purposes for the year 2015, was riddled with a number of discrepancies – many of which could not have been explained by the Permanent Secretary, Alfred King.

The Committee took a 20-minutes break to allow King to gather some information which he assured was stored at his office but he failed to provide such thereafter. As a result, the PAC Chairman, Irfaan Ali suspended the sitting.

The issue revolved around the spending of some $540,000 monthly out of the $47M for the supplies for the hostel.

King explained that the $251,200 was monies owed to the supplier for some four months but when the cheque was processed in January 2016, the sum of $2.512M was uplifted by the vendor who was identified as Devanauth Sugrim.

The Auditor General, Deodat Sharma noted in his 2015 Report that the details for the payment were entered into the IFMAS by a staff of the Ministry and the wrong amount of $2.512M was entered instead of $251,200.

King was unable to explain how this error occurred.

The Permanent Secretary was also unable to provide a breakdown of the remaining amount of the $47M which was budgeted under dietary needs.

King said the breakdown of how the monies were spent was at his office and at this point, Ali gave him 20 minutes to collect the information.

Upon return, King said he was unable to get the information.

Prior to the break, King had also disclosed that the supplier was contracted through a three-quotation method with the permission of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board and that the suppliers had been obtained using a register.

But the Committee found that there was no such register.

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