Audit Office hindered in its duties – AG

first_img2017 estimates…grapples with staff shortage after proposed budget slashed by GovtThe proposed budget for the Audit Office of Guyana (AOG) was slashed by the Government side in the National Assembly during consideration of the 2017 Estimates of Expenditure, and the resultant consequences have since included the AOG grappling with not having adequate staff, or adequate funds to pay them.The proposed estimate for the AOG in the last budget was $771.2 million for that constitutional agency that is tasked with auditing ‘the state apparatus’, but Finance Minister Winston Jordan had decreased this sum to $754.9M.Auditor General Deodat Sharma says the AOG has been affected by the cut, being forced to relinquish plans to hire additional staff. And although central government’s accounts have been brought up to date, work has to be done on statutory bodies.“It (the budgetary cut) affected us because we were unable to bring on the rest of the staff that we needed, especially when carrying out our extended mandate,” the Auditor General related in a recent interview.“What is happening (is that) the country’s accounts have been brought up (to date), (and) I’m trying to bring all the other statutory bodies and their accounts up to date,” Sharma pointed out. “And without the adequate staff, it will delay me to bring these accounts up to date.”The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has been vocal in its opposition to the budgetary cut. The party pointed out that the total budgetary allocation for constitutional agencies in 2016 was $8 billion, whereas it is only $6 billion in 2017.Former Junior Finance Minister Bishop Juan Edghill had, during a conference, reminded that a budget was a financial plan which articulated the direction of an organisation and the cost to get there. Therefore, he argued, by cutting the budgets, affected organisations would now have to re-organise priorities and neglect funding for some critical undertakings.“Whenever the Government reduces the allocations for constitutional agencies, they are actually preventing themselves from being scrutinised. For example, the Auditor General would say, ‘This is what we need.’ If you cut the Audit Office (budget), the Auditor General would have to re-organise his priorities, and so something will be left out; which means less scrutiny for Government,” he explained.The AOG has a wide remit, being responsible for auditing the public accounts of Guyana and presenting reports of those audits to the Minister of Finance, thence to the National Assembly. As laid out in Article 223 of the Constitution of Guyana, the AOG is authorised to audit all officers and authorities of the Government, including commissions.Slashing of the AOG’s proposed budget came on the heels of AG Deodat Sharma declaring in his 2015 Audit Report that Government had kept more than $500M, rather than depositing same into the Consolidated Fund. That report, made public in October 2016, had spoken of the millions of dollars used on the D’Urban Park construction, Mashramani celebrations, and $51.5M being spent on ‘music’.Nor was the AOG the only agency to have its proposed funding re-adjusted. PPP Chief Whip Gail Teixeira had lamented that constitutional agencies had altogether requested some $11 billion, but Government was willing to approve only some $6 billion, a difference of over $5 billion.The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has suffered the deepest cut in its budgetary proposals, with its 2017 budgetary request being slashed from $5.8 billion to a mere $2 billion.Government also reduced the budgetary requests for the Ethic Relations Commission (ERC) from $141.2 million to $84.9 million; the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC’s) budgetary requests from $15.02 million to $10.02million; the Indigenous Peoples’ Commission’s (IPC’s) requests from $33.1 million to $24.4 million; and the Rights of the Child (ROC) Commission’s request from $97 million to only $41.5 million.The Women and Gender Equality Commission requested $62.9 million but received only $42 million, while the Human Rights Commission received $34.1 million of the $74.9 million requested.The Minister of Finance also slashed the budgetary request of the Office of the Ombudsman — still without a head — from $50.3 million to $48.3 million; and the Public Service Appellate Tribunal, which has not yet been established, received $12.4 million of the $13.9 million requested.In response to questions emanating from the Opposition, Minister Jordan had argued that the allocations were made “in context of existing fiscal space and the consideration of the agencies’ requests within national development priorities.” (Jarryl Bryan)last_img read more

Albania stun Portugal, Germany win

first_img0Shares0000lbaniaPARIS, September 8 – Albania pulled off a major shock by downing Portugal as world champions Germany denied battling Scotland and minnows Gibraltar were demolished by Poland in the opening salvos of Euro 2016 qualifying on Sunday.Portugal, first round casualties at the World Cup, were sorely missing their skipper Cristiano Ronaldo but despite the Real Madrid star’s absence the 1-0 loss to a team ranked 71st in the world was a major embarrassment for Paulo Bento’s side. Albania, who have failed to qualify for a European Championships in half a century, humbled the mighty Portuguese in their own back yard.Slavia Prague forward Bekim Balaj struck the killer blow shortly after the restart, with the home side walking off the pitch in Aveiro at the final whistle to boos from their supporters.“It’s a really bad result,” conceded Portugal striker Nani.“We’ve started qualifyng badly, now we have to pick ourselves up. We have to improve.”Down on Portugal’s Algarve coast, minnows Gibraltar were given a lesson on their introduction to competitive internationals as a UEFA member by Poland as Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski scored four times in a 7-0 romp.In Dortmund, Germany, beaten last week in a friendly by Argentina, got their qualifying campaign up and running with a 2-1 defeat of a spirited Scotland.A goal in each half from Bayern Munich attacker Thomas Mueller ensured they won their first competitive fixture since the World Cup.Scotland were rewarded for a positive second-half approach when winger Ikechi Anya raced clear to equalise on 66 minutes.But the visitors failed to clear a corner four minutes later and Mueller capitalised to thump home his 24th international goal.– Miserable note –Mueller’s winner denied Gordon Strachan’s side what would have been a precious point in a group that also includes the Republic of Ireland, Poland, Georgia and Gibraltar.Scotland were unable to fashion a second equaliser and the night ended on a miserable note when Mulgrew was sent off for dissent in stoppage time.The result means Germany have now gone 33 World Cup and European Championship qualifying games without defeat.German manager Joachim Loew, who revealed Marco Reus had picked up another ankle injury, was relieved his side had survived an uncomfortable second half.“I’m really happy that we got the three points,” Loew said.“Clearly I knew it would be tough. In the first half we had complete control of the game. We didn’t give them any chances and we created a lot ourselves.“We lost control of the game a little bit in the second half. Scotland scored but we reacted well.”Everton winger Aiden McGeady got the Republic of Ireland’s Euro bid off to a flying start with a 2-1 win over Georgia in Tbilisi.Manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane’s first competitive game in charge appeared to be heading for a draw, after Tornike Okriashvili cancelled out McGeady’s 24th minute opener.But McGeady bagged a crucial three points away from home with a magical 90th minute winner, curling home a precious winner.Captain Robbie Keane lauded McGeady’s skill.“If you score a goal like that, you deserve to win the game. If anyone else did that, the top players in the world, you would be talking about it for a long time.“The turn, the touch, the finish – only he could do that. No-one else on that field would have been able to do that.”O’Neill suggested there was better to come from his men.“I think there’s improvement in the team – we’ve won away from home, which is terrific – but there’s definitely improvement in the team.”Next month O’Neill’s men face Gibraltar and Germany.Northern Ireland also came out of the blocks brightly – Kyle Lafferty and Niall McGinn providing the late goals for a 2-1 win over Hungary in Budapest.Michael O’Neill’s side’s hopes of registering a first away success in four years looked unlikely when former Watford striker Tamas Priskin headed home a 74th-minute corner.But with 10 minutes remaining, McGinn’s tap-in after a great run from Lafferty put the visitors back in the game.Then on 87 minutes McGinn turned provider who managed to scramble the ball over the line.0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more