City Hall should be banned from collecting subventions – MP

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Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill has recommended that Central Government stop funding the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) over its failure to account for subventions it has received in the past.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), chaired by Member of Parliament Irfaan Ali on Monday considered the Auditor General Report for the Year 2016 where the M&CC was once again unable to account for spending of monies it received from Central Government.

The Treasurer of City Hall, Ron McCalmon was absent from the session and this forced the PAC Chairman to request that the Deputy Treasurer, John Douglas be summoned to answer the questions.

Douglas, however, was unable to answer questions about the spending of millions of dollars City Hall received in subvention from Central Government for the year 2016.

At the PAC meeting, Auditor General Deodat Sharma lamented that this has been a common occurrence and he later revealed that the Audit Office will be launching a forensic audit into City Hall.

Unlike a regular audit, forensic audits can be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for criminal charges to be recommended.

According to the Auditor General, the Georgetown Municipality has, for years, been unable to keep clean accounts.

“We went in to do 2005 audit, no records were produced and so we had a disclaimer for that. In respect of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, we did some work. The 2012 records were damaged and the other years were disclaimer. So we are not getting enough records to say that we have clean accounts at the Georgetown Mayor and City Council,” Sharma stated.

The situation of unaccountability at City Hall prompted MP Edghill to ask whether City Hall should still be receiving monies if it cannot account for it.

“Why should we continue to give Georgetown money when they are not accounting for it. Is Georgetown a special child?” Edghill queried.

According to the Auditor General’s Report, $200 million were paid to City Hall for the Georgetown Restoration Programme by three vouchers. As at December 31, 2016 the Council reported on capital works having spent GY$173.505 million- GY$131.382 million on five projects and GY$42.123 million for the purchase of office equipment and furniture.

The five projects Kitty Market: GY$60.121 million; Constabulary Training School: GY$23.096 million; City Engineers building: GY$13.594 million, Constabulary Headquarters Building GY$12.921 million and Albouystown Clinic GY$21.580 million.

However, the payment vouchers and other related documents were not presented for audit examination.

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