Monies must be accounted for “irrespective of where it was spent”- Communities Ministry to City Mayor
Following comments made by Mayor of Georgetown, Patricia Chase-Green that the recent audits conducted at the Municipality were unprofessional and disrespectful, the Ministry of Communities has said it is required to ensure that any subvention or grant disbursed to local democratic organs is spent in accordance with the programme.
In an article in the Stabroek News on October 25, 2016, under the headline, “Mayor miffed at ‘disrespectful’ audit into $300M subvention” in which City Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green is quoted as saying that the investigation of City Hall was unprofessional and disrespectful.
However, in a statement to the media on Thursday, the Ministry under which the Council falls, noted that “it is required of the Permanent Secretary to account for all expenditure under the Ministry of Communities irrespective of where it was spent.”
In 2015, the Georgetown Mayor and City Council received two grants appropriated under the Ministry’s Capital Programme to be used for the “Georgetown Restoration Programme” and the “Emergency Solid Waste Management of Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill” amounting to $300M and $100M respectively.
It was highlighted in the audit that over 200 payment vouchers contained discrepancies either with no evidence of the payment being certified by the accountant or any other authorized officer; a disclosure which seemingly outraged some.
It clarified that the Ministry is not in any way involved in an investigation at the Municipality but is, in fact, collecting data in preparation of a response to audit queries stemming from the 2015 Auditor General’s report.
The Ministry also said it is also normal procedure for queries raised in the Auditor General’s report to be resolved before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) starts its work. This is done in conjunction with the Auditor General and the Accountant General’s Office.
The report was submitted on October 5, 2016, following which a letter was sent to the Town Clerk and copied to the Mayor, informing them of a decision to dispatch the Ministry’s internal auditor to have the issues resolved, the statement added.
Further, the Ministry reiterates its “absolute regard for the authority and autonomy of local organs and would in no way impinge or circumvent the council’s work.”