Auditor General (AG), Deodat Sharma has been accused on several occasions of not highlighting cases of corruption under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). While Sharma has insisted that this is not the case, evidence brought to the attention of the Guyana Standard today suggests otherwise.
This news agency understands that in his 2010, Sharma did not allow information regarding breaches of the nation’s financial laws by former President, Donald Ramotar’s son, Alexi, to make it into his final report.
The former Head of State’s son was in charge of the E-Governance Project. Among other tasks, he was responsible for ensuring that a Fibre Optic Cable was laid from Georgetown to Lethem. This formed part of the PPP’s Information Communication Technology Initiative to bring cheaper internet service to Guyana’s shores from Brazil.
Guyana Standard understands that the AG, in his final report, claimed that millions of dollars spent on project materials were verified even when the possibility of verification did not exist. In fact, the audit of the project which was conducted by Audit Officer, Marlon Leitch found that numerous breaches occurred under Ramotar’s son.
Letich’s report on the issue stated, “In relation to the (a) installation of communication fibre optic networking system from Georgetown to Lethem; (b) the construction of the central data centre in Georgetown and (c), the construction of terrestrial network from Moleson Creek to Anna Regina, amounts totaling $846.451M were expended. The expenditure had its roots in payments on fourteen vouchers for the sum. Nonetheless, an examination of the vouchers revealed no information on the nature of the transactions. As such, the validity of the expenditure, whether value was received, could not be determined.” (See attached photo for reference)
The AG replaced the foregoing with these two paragraphs for his final report.
“The sum of $846.451M was voted for the Lethem to Providence E-Government Project. According to the Appropriation Account, the sum of $846.451M was expended in 2010. Included in the sum of $846.451M were amounts totaling $777.635M, which were received by the Project via releases and deposited into an Escrow account. The difference of $68.816M represented advance payments on three contracts for the laying of cables.
“In relation to the sum of $777.635M, amounts totaling $528.287M were expended at the time of audit in July, leaving a balance of $249.348M. Included in the sum expended were amounts totaling $241.551M and $286.736M, which were spent in 2010 and 2011, respectively, on the purchase of cables and related materials, inter-connectivity of the fibre optic network between Brazil and Guyana, and laying of cables. The materials were verified as having been received, while works were ongoing.” (View the full report by following this link: http://www.audit.org.gy/pubs/AnnualReport2010.pdf)
When it assumed office in 2015, the APNU+AFC administration had commissioned several forensic audit reports, one of which exposed the numerous breaches of the Procurement Act along with the mismanagement of state resources under the E-Governance Project. While these alarming findings were found, Sharma never spoke about similar findings in any of his reports.