Adoption of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee of Guyana on the Public Accounts Of Guyana for the Year 20093262 17 Dec, 2012
Ms. Shadick: As one of two Members of the Public Accounts Committee who is still a Member of it in this session – Hon. Member Volda Lawrence having been the Chairman for the Committee when this report was prepared – I think that it is only fitting that I should say a few words. While I know that the Chairman now, Mr. Greenidge, read, what is written here, does not really reflect the work of the Public Accounts Committee.
This House needs to understand and appreciate that the Public Accounts Committee has the responsibility for the supervision of the Audit Office of this country, and that is a big part of our work. In as much as we did quite a lot of work with the Audit Office, we were able to examine the accounts for the year 2009 in record time and finish before another report was presented. I cannot say the same for what is going on in this present Committee because right now we have one report catching up another and we have not reached halfway in the one for the year 2010.
Suffice it to say that I have stood here before and there are, in these reports, issues which keep repeating. Some of them might be new instances, in a few cases, of the same problem, but many of them are carry-overs from years before which keep coming back in the Auditor General’s Report. For instance, there is the issue about the pension fraud. That has been there since 2004. It still keeps coming back. It still is in here. There still is a recommendation about police reports and all of that. There are things that the Auditor General keeps mentioning. There are things that the officers keep saying: “There is no police report and so the matter cannot be dealt with”, and so on. This House needs to understand that even though we might see these things keep repeating, they are not matters that happened in the year 2009, necessarily. They might be matters that happened eight, seven or ten years before 2009 but they are coming back because for some reason they cannot be taken off the books.
I would like to say that in the year 2009 the Public Accounts Committee worked with the Audit Office and the Audit Office produced two Value for Money Audits in which the Committee was not really satisfied that the audits were really value for money audits because of the subjects which were chosen, and so on, but the reports were very informative and gave the Committee some means of discussion. The Audit Office was undergoing a transition phase, as all of us know, because it is autonomous, it has its own thing and the Public Accounts Committee exercises supervision.
All in all, however, that year 2009 was very refreshing when we found that lots of agencies were able to…If they had paid salaries to people who may have left, because of some reason, and they went into the bank, that was the first year that we found agencies being able to recover deductions which were made and paid to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and in some cases the NIS. That was very heartening. I take that in the context of the now announcement by the GRA that it is now going to be giving refunds to taxpayers. We argued for that when GRA appeared before the Committee because it used to give refunds to businesses, but not to the small taxpayer. The Public Accounts Committee in its own way is fighting the battle for the small Guyanese people in whatever way it can. We were very pleased to be able to do so in this year.
We had some very good and positive things that we found in the year 2009. There are agencies which improved their performance and stayed according to the law. There are still some which did not clear the cheque orders in time, could not find vouchers to back up whatever they had, but a significant number of agencies showed improvement in the way they handled the public funds and the Auditor General could find less and less things to complain about.
All in all, I would like to say on behalf of the Government side…I know that I am the only Member on the Government side with the institutional knowledge of what happened in the year 2009 and it would be remiss of me if I did not get up to give some kind of background to what is happening.
We are seeing some of those issues which are coming back now in the year 2010 and we are trying to deal with them as best we can, but I must say that the rate of work of the Public Accounts Committee, up to and including this report… I do not think it is being repeated and will be repeated in this session of Parliament. The way we are moving is not how we moved before. I would like to stress that we try to have things come up to date. We must finish examining one report before another one is presented. Already there are two reports coming together and it makes the work of the Public Accounts Committee very much harder.
Sir, with those few words I would like to commend the report to the House.
May I crave your indulgence please, Sir, on a matter that is not a PAC matter? This afternoon we were given a very nice looking diary. Everybody in the House got one. I, being a person who likes to see what is given to me – I do not like a pig in a bag – turned to the back page and saw a map of the world and I saw, off South America, the Falklands Islands and – my eyes are not too good – another set of islands, but in bracket there is the UK, meaning that they belong to the United Kingdom. I think that Guyana’s stance is that we recognise their right to be independent and not to be called property of the United Kingdom. That, in itself, is inappropriate.
When one turns to the front there are things in Spanish. It has nothing to do with Guyana and the Caribbean. Then there is a map of Central America. It has nothing to do with the Caribbean and nothing to do with Guyana. Sir, I, myself, have returned the diary given to me to the Clerk and I am saying that it is very inappropriate for a Member of Parliament of this country to be seen with something that says…
Thank you very much.
I commend the Report of the PAC for 2009.
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