Ming upset at continued poor accounting practices in ministries
Calls on government to take remedial action
Stabroek News
November 15, 2001

City businessman, Stanley Ming, is threatening to wage a campaign to have Guyanese stop paying taxes if the government does not take steps to ensure that the state gets value for money for projects awarded and accounts for every cent spent from taxpayers resources.

"My attitude is very simple. If I, as a Guyanese citizen, do not see checks and balances being put in place within a period of say six months, I will personally go on a crusade to encourage Guyanese to stop paying taxes. I will lead the fray until such time that there is proper accountability," Ming told Stabroek News. He is calling on the government to take remedial action.

Ming, who has attended his first four meetings as a member of the Public Accounts Committee of parliament, said all he has heard from the government accounting officers on the discrepancies cited in the Auditor General's 1999 report is that these issues are being looked at; new systems are being put in place; or the ministries are short of people.

Ming said that he had been told that these were the same promises made every year in relation to the past discrepancies raised by the Auditor General but nothing has been done to date. He said the situation continues and worsens with lack of accountability, questionable transactions, lack of transparency in the awarding of contracts, contracts being split and awarded to the same contractors on the same day to avoid having to go to tender and less than 10% of the contract being completed but payment being made in full.

"We are getting less than 50% value from the money being spent and in some cases we are getting as little as 10%. As a tax payer and a citizen of Guyana, I resent that," Ming asserted.

The Auditor General has year after year commented on the government accounts with the same deficiencies being identified time and again.

Ming said that he asked the PAC what recourse a taxpayer has in face of such illegal acts as splitting contracts to avoid tender limits and the Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, and the Secretary to the Treasury Neermal Rekha said that as long as they could remember, no action was ever taken against those culpable.

The businessman said that he has suggested that legal advice be sought on putting in place mechanisms to ensure that contracts are monitored from the phase of being awarded, implemented and completed. He said the evaluation should be done within 60 days of the contract being awarded and not a year after.

Ming said he is tired of hearing promises of changes and is not prepared to sit back anymore and allow sloppy jobs to go unnoticed or unchallenged as shoddy work and corruption is now becoming a norm.

The Financial Administration and Audit Act allows the Secretary to the Treasury to surcharge against persons for improper payment or for payment not duly vouched or for the improper use of state resources. There is a deadline of three years after which the surcharge cannot be made.

The Auditor General is charged with ensuring that state funds are properly spent failing which he is to notify the Minister of Finance for corrective steps to be taken.