Report on A H & L Kissoon credit deal sparks acrimony
City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
June 2, 2002
Articles on Georgetown
City Councillors are deliberating on how to deal with a report from the assistant Auditor General dealing with credit purchases which the administration made last year from A H & L Kissoon Ltd amounting to $5.5M.
The minister in the Local Government Ministry Clinton Collymore, had called on the Auditor General to mount the investigation after the matter had been thoroughly discussed by city 'fathers' and 'mothers' at a number of statutory meetings and given wide publicity in the press.
Councillors from all three political parties represented on the council had expressed alarm and disapproval over the way in which the arrangement was undertaken with questions being asked about the need for such items at this time and their location.
When the matter was raised at the last statutory meeting of the council the heated arguments continued after deputy mayor Robert Williams, who had first brought the Kissoon affair to his colleagues' notice, said all the administration has to do is search for and identify the items which include curtains, office furniture, a television set and paint.
But the Good and Green Guyana councillor Patricia Chase-Green after accusing the deputy mayor, who is also chairman of the Finance committee, of `sand dancing' in his presentation demanded that the national police be called in immediately as a result of the Auditor's General's findings. "We must show respect for the Auditor General's office... the taxpayers are looking at us to produce the missing items..."
Town Clerk Beulah Williams fresh from her annual vacation informed the meeting that the council's internal auditor has submitted a written report which is to be circulated to councillors. "Let us await this report" said mayor Hamilton Green... but the People's Progressive Party/Civic councillor Rudolph Harris was not satisfied... "This is a cover-up..." he shouted.
The purchases were as a result of an arrangement between the city council and A H & L Kissoon Ltd, whereby credit facilities to the amount of $5.5M would be granted to the council in lieu of the payment of arrears taxes.
The Auditor General's report now in the hands of councillors reveal that discussions were held with the purchasing officer, the officer in charge of the stores, the city treasurer and the internal auditor among others.
A number of records at City Hall were examined including purchase orders and invoices with visits to the various locations where the goods were claimed to have been received.
It was noted that thirteen purchase orders amounting to $7,446,607 made out to Kissoon's were written up and retained in the purchase order book. "The purchase orders should be cancelled if not required, in order to prevent any irregular act being perpetrated..." investigators explained.
The investigations also found that ten purchase orders amounting to $1,602,870 and made out in the name of A H & L Kissoon were processed but there was no evidence that the goods were received at the council's stores.
In addition, the government auditors found that the numbers of two purchase orders, which were not produced for audit, were quoted on photocopies of A H & L Kissoon Ltd, sales invoices instead of the original copies.
While verifying that goods amounting to nearly three and a half million dollars had been received by the M&CC the auditors found that these items were not marked as the property of the city council and that the creditors' register was not maintained for the purchases from Kissoon's.
The council has been advised to mount an investigation into the items amounting to over $1.5M not accounted for.
Medical Officer of Health (MOH) Dr Vibert Shury expressed concern over the increasing number of public food and cake stalls which have recently sprung up in the city especially around the main busy shopping and gaming areas.
The MOH, whose department is responsible for monitoring places where all types of food are sold told this column that with the incessant rainfall citizens must be extra careful and especially children when purchasing liquids sold in plastic bags... "no one is sure about the sources of the water which is being used in producing the product..." added the MOH. Many of the persons who handle food in the city have no food handlers' certificate.
Dr Shury said there has been an increase in the number of persons complaining about looseness of bowels and vomiting.
What a ridiculous idea... putting up a concrete wall on the northern portion of City Hall. This fantasy has surfaced following last Saturday morning's fatal bandit attack on a Regent Street cambio business for the second time.
It was also the second time that members stationed at the headquarters of the City Hall police were not only caught flat-footed but had to run for cover when the armed robbers sprayed bullets on the constabulary head office, where it was reported senior officers were meeting. I can well imagine the order coming from the presiding officer at the meeting... run for cover!.