Police to probe $40M fraud in Reg. 8 school feeding programme
By Devina Samaroo
The Office of the Auditor General has uncovered the mismanagement of some $40 million dollars in Region Eight’s school feeding programme and the matter has since been reported to the police.
The issue is expected to be included in his 2016 Report which was handed over to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland on Friday.
Reports indicate that a senior regional official purchased items from her Parika, East Bank Essequibo shop. Those reports said not only were some of the items purchased not delivered, but high prices were paid for them.
Auditor General, Deodat Sharma said he is also doing a forensic audit into the matter and some of the impediments in conducting the probe are missing vouchers and missing information.
The Auditor General noted too that over the years, the issue of overpayments has plagued the nation’s accounting system. He said steps need to be taken to recover the State’s monies and stricter enforcement of penalties against officers in breach is required.
In fact, Sharma recommended amendments to the Standing Order of Parliament so that the Public Accounts Committee can enforce penalties against accounting officers in breach.
“I think the problem they’re having is the PAC meeting out disciplinary actions against these officers. I think maybe (there should be) an amendment to the standing order,” he said.
The Auditor General report will become available to the public once it is presented to the National Assembly after the parliamentary recess on October 10. Thereafter it will be sent to the PAC for scrutiny by members of parliament on both the government and opposition benches.
Meanwhile, the Auditor General also handed over his Performance Report on “The Construction of the New Access Road to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport” since the project was not completed in a timely manner.