Teixeira accuses Reg. 2 of using revenue as ‘slush fund’; $21M in advances not repaid between1995 to 2018
The Regional Administration of Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaan) was Monday accused by several members of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of using revenue generated, apart from annual budget allocations, as a slush fund.
Millions of dollars collected in the region, from the rental of equipment, buildings and toll fees, are routinely placed into three Republic Bank accounts which were opened decades ago under the Guyana National Cooperative Bank.
But a query in the 2017 and 2018 Auditor General Reports has raised red flags where a total of $21 million was paid in advances to over 350 persons in the region from 1995 to 2018, but those remain outstanding.
The suspicion is that the funds, which are maintained separately from budgeted sums, are not properly accounted for and could be used for corrupt or illegal purposes.
It was revealed that these advances were made to employees for transportation, meals, salary advances, miscellaneous works, activities and celebrations but these are already covered in budgetary allocation.
Members of PAC, along with officers of the Auditor General’s Office, have since asked for more clarity on why these funds were used for these purposes, a practice that repeated itself for several years but was only flagged in the 2017 report.
Regional Executive Officer, Susanah Saywack, told the PAC that the decision on how the monies are used is done between herself and the Regional Chairperson Vilma Desilva, although Saywack herself is not yet a signatory to the account.
Saywack said the monies were used to help people in the region even as it was revealed that monies were also taken from the account to replace laptops, assist with medical care and relocation of staff.
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira was the first to put on record that the monies seem to be used outside of the purposes intended amounting to a “slush fund.”
Teixeira said among the major issue is that the monies are not declared as revenue at the end of the year and then form part of the regional budget. She said too that the monies are not turned over to the Consolidated Fund as is expected, which also raises serious concerns.
“It appears this money is used as slush funds,” Teixeira said as members Ganesh Mahipaul and Juretha Fernandes agreed with “yeses” and the nodding of their heads in the affirmative.
“Persons have been delinquent too in having taken advances and not reimbursing and those persons are liable for charges of some kind,” Teixeira added
It was revealed during exchanges that some of the signatories on the accounts are no longer employed with the region, leading to PAC members to instruct that those names are removed forthwith and the practice of the REO and Chairman deciding how to use the money to cease.
The audit office said similar practices were found in Regions Nine and Six.