GuySuCo never received $400M approved by Parliament in 2016, PAC hears
The sum of $400M, approved in the 2016 national budget by the National Assembly for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was never given to the agency, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard on Monday.
The monies were allotted for, among other things, the purchase of machinery and equipment for semi-mechanical harvesting and land preparation, factory energy-efficient improvements at the Albion, Rose Hall and Uitvlugt estates and provision for institutional strengthening for 2016.
The Auditor General, in his report for that year, noted that according to the Appropriation Account, there was no expenditure as of December 31, 2016, and no budgetary allocation was made for this project in the 2017 budget.
When the report was being reviewed by PAC on Monday, former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, George Jervis, confirmed that although approved, the monies were never released by the then APNU+AFC government to GuySuCo for the purposes intended.
“The fact it was not released… what I can’t recall is whether my office made that request,” Jervis said in response to questions from Members of Parliament.
The failure to release the funds to GuySuCo by the former government raised concerns among government MPs Gail Teixeira and Juan Edghill, even as the incumbent People’s Progressive Party is now spending billions to revitalise GuySuCo.
The Coalition government had long been accused by the PPP of neglecting GuySuCo and sugar workers in its policy decision during its term in government.
The APNU+AFC government had closed three estates and laid off hundreds of workers.
The PPP is now reopening those restates with a major recruitment drive currently ongoing.
GuySuCo received $11B in 2016, the Corporation’s Head of Finance (ag), Nigel Kanrouz, told PAC.
He confirmed that there was limited mechanization done in 2016, with the $11B going towards operational expenses like wages and salaries.
He too confirmed that GuySuCo never received the $400M, but like Jervis, he could not say whether a request was made for the disbursement.