Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon says Auditor General (AG), Deodat Sharma is “unusually quiet these days” about PPP/C Government’s purported excesses, as he noted that yet another approach is being made for the House’s approval of billions of dollars already spent.
His comment comes on the heels of the government presenting financial papers to address a number of urgent interventions across several key sectors including Agriculture, Housing and Water, Health, Education, Public Works and Security. The Financial Papers, amounting to over $26 billion, include Financial Paper No.3 of 2021 totaling $5.1 billion which caters for Contingency Fund advances covering the period July 22-December 9, 2021 and provides for a number of interventions, including payment for one-off cash-grants to severed sugar workers, out of crop support to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), cash-grants to private school students, provisions for eight containerized offices and construction of two bridges for the Brickdam Police Station which was ravaged by fire on October 2, 2021.
Harmon said that the government must disaggregate the expenditure so that citizens can see how their monies are being spent.
“We have an Auditor General now who is unusually quiet about all of these excesses in government and all these expenditures, [about] all of these expenditures that are under contingency where they ought to be questioned. But the Auditor General is a very quiet person these days,” Harmon said during a virtual press conference this morning.
He also accused the AG of dragging his feet on a Presidential directive to have an audit into the $25,000 COVID-19 cash grants that were distributed weeks after the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) assumed office.
Indeed, President Dr Irfaan Ali, on December 18, 2020, requested that the Auditor General’s Office conduct an audit of the $25,000 per household cash grant to ensure the monies were properly disbursed. This he said was to ascertain if any household did not receive the COVID-19 funds. The President said also that he requested the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Human Services and the Auditor General to examine the concerns that have been raised on social media and by opposition personnel with regards to persons not receiving the cash grants.
Harmon said that for many months, “nothing happened”. The AG, however, in a September 20, 2021, Newsroom report, said that his work in auditing the distribution of the grant has been hampered by the peculiar COVID-19 situation in each region.