“The Audit Office of Guyana is not where it needs to be. But you can’t expect the best from my office when my funding is only 0.2 percent of the national budget…”
Those were the words of Auditor General, Deodat Sharma during an exclusive interview with the Guyana Standard today on the state of his office and the areas he is desperately trying to improve.
Sharma noted that from the time he was confirmed in 2012, his budget increased modestly. But this only lasted up to 2015, he said. He was also quick to clarify that “the situation with funding is not at a critical stage” but noted nonetheless that the budget of the office needs to be increased at least by 40 percent, if the office is to maintain and upgrade its information technology infrastructure, among other things.
The Auditor General said, too, that with the “modest” funding over the years, he has been able to “effectively” fill 38 percent of his staffing needs with persons who possess the requisite qualifications. He noted however that if this can be increased to 60 percent, his office would be able to conduct thorough investigations throughout the administrative regions.
Sharma said, “Given the size of the country, access to all 10 Administrative Regions is challenging. And because we don’t have the full complement of ‘qualified’ people, many annual audit reports are not completed on time and many special audits that we need to do just get shelved. We have about 200 special audits we want to do…”
The Auditor General also lamented the state of his Forensic Audit Unit. He said that it needs to be strengthened to increase the office’s capacity in investigating and uncovering fraud and corruption in Guyana. He noted however that his plans to improve the Unit have been stalled for the last three years.
Sharma told this news agency that he told the new administration about the state of affairs on countless occasions. “But nothing is being done about it. How do you expect us to really expose corruption and tell you where the loopholes are if the funding we ask for is not being granted? The office will remain the same, weak and far from being where it needs to be if this approach from government continues,” the Auditor General expressed.