OLPF Project operated at a loss of over 306 million to Government- Audit Report reveals
The audit report of the One Laptop Per Family Project, initiated under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration (PPP/C) has a revealed a number of deficiencies including a total loss to the government of over 306 million dollars.
The audit was conducted by Ram and Macrae chartered Accountants Professional Services Firm and has a number of findings, which have confirmed long held beliefs that the project was managed inefficiently and was more or less a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.
The report cites that of the 103 laptops, totaling over five million dollars, which were reported missing in 2012, none were recovered, with the only action taken being the dismissal of seven employees, whose names were not listed.
It notes that in August 2015 management was unable to account for an additional 1,875 laptops costing close to 110 million dollars, and recommends that the matter should be referred to the police for a full investigation.
A whopping total of 3,158 laptops in stock, costing over 191 million dollars are all damaged, the audit revealed, it is undetermined whether these are beyond repair.
In this regard there is likelihood that of the total number of laptops acquired by purchase or grant of 55,145, some 5,136 were either “stolen or are defective,” in dollar terms, an actual loss to the Government of almost 307 million dollars.
According to the Grant Agreement signed between the Government of Guyana and Aerospace Science & Industry Shenzhen Co. Ltd (China) on September 15, 2015, 9,609 laptops will be provided by China at a total cost of one billion, 631 million dollars.
These laptops are to be distributed to educators, students, institutions of learning and community based organisations. However, attention was drawn to the average unit price which, according to the report compares unfavourably with the average price per laptop acquired by the last Administration.
It went on to state that “the financing of the Project was opaque and funded out of moneys received by the National Frequency Management Unit which was itself retaining funds otherwise payable into the Consolidated Fund.
” The Project did not maintain any proper system of accounting and the only accounting done was by way of instructions to the NFMU to approve invoices for payment. There was no accounting for transactions executed on behalf of the Project nor was there any reconciliation of the records of the OLPF and the NFMU.”
Through substantive testing and expenditure analysis confirmed that $1,263,454,790 was paid by the NFMU for the administrative, employment, training and distribution expenses incurred by OLPF during the period May 9, 2011 to May 31, 2015.
The report said it is clear from the summary analysis that 92% of the total cost was incurred due to indirect expenses, while only 8% was directly attributable to the underlying objective of the project.
” We (auditors) believe that the general expenses of the OLPF were exorbitant and could have been curtailed by management. Up to and including December 31, 2014 the Project had fallen short of target of 90,000 laptops to be distributed by 31,697 or 35%.
Additionally, there are significant errors which should have been detected and prevented by basic supervisory controls. “We are therefore unable to determine how many of the recipients of laptops were genuine,” the report further states.
In concluding the Audit firm said the entire project was grossly over staffed, and still a number of departments failed to carry out daily duties in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Overall, there was a general lack of proper internal controls and maintenance of adequate financial systems.