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The concept of observing the rule of law is one that ought to apply with equal force and effect to the ‘lowly’ citizen and to the ‘mighty’ official, to the State and all its institutions, shadow Finance Minister Winston Murray, has said.The Chairman of the main Opposition Party, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) was speaking to the illegalities and irregularities in the Auditor General’s Report of 2006 at a press briefing yesterday at Congress Place.His sentiments were endorsed by Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo, who said during a later press briefing that any government officers found guilty of corruption involving public funds should be jailed.“Where we have corrupt people they should face the full brunt of the law…They should be charged and taken to court.”Murray also said that his party was not ruling out taking the matter to the courts, but past experiences in the judicial system, especially the lengthy delays,NCAA Baseball Jerseys, are not encouraging.The report in contention was handed over to the Speaker of the National Assembly at the end of July, which, according to Murray,Wholesale China NFL Jerseys, was already a violation of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA)IRREGULARITIESThe Auditor General is required to present the report within nine months following the end of the fiscal year to which the report relates. “On that basis the 2006 Report is submitted 10 months outside of the legal requirement.”Murray added that under the same piece of legislation, the Minister of Finance is required to deliver the consolidated financial statements to the Auditor General within four months following the end of the fiscal year, but the Auditor General in his report outlined that as at April 30, 2007, none of the statements was received.The draft Appropriation Accounts were received on June 20, 2007 and “the signed statements to facilitate the completion of these audits were not received until June 24, 2008.”According to Murray, that in itself clearly showed that the Finance Minister did not comply with the law. “In fact, the signed statements to facilitate the 2006 audit were submitted some 15 months after the legal deadline.”There was another discrepancy or violation of the FMAA. “If the Minister has not delivered the consolidated financial statements to the Auditor General within four months following the end of the fiscal year. . .the Minister shall provide the National Assembly with a statement as to the reasons why the consolidated financial statements have not been so delivered to the Auditor General.”This, according to Murray, was never provided to the National Assembly, either within the legal time frame or outside of it. “This is truly indicative of the regard the Government has for the rule of law.”Other issues that raised eyebrows within the party was the ‘schedule of the issuance and extinguishment of all loans made by the government’ where the Auditor General noted that loans made in 2006 to Aroaima and Hand in Hand Trust Corporation amounting to $105M were omitted from the schedule.Further, an independent check of the schedule by the PNCR revealed that the loan to Buddy’s International Hotel was not included. “Surely an explanation is owed for these omissions.”Murray continued that his party called the government’s interpretation of transparency and accountability, adamant. He said that one other general area that deserves lamenting is that of Bank Accounts.He noted that the overall comment is that there were a number of inactive Bank Accounts with large sums of money in them (over $7.9B) which the Auditor General had expressed the opinion that such accounts should be closed and the balances transferred to the Consolidated Fund.“The PNCR is aware that in many instances the Accountant General had ordered such accounts closed and the funds transferred…For many years now this has not been done…The Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, has been heard to say recently that the problem with such accounts was that they went back to the pre-1992 era and that there were difficulties in reconciling such accounts…“This is the typical knee jerk reaction from the Government…When something cannot be properly explained, blame it on the PNC.”Murray insisted that the facts showed that more than 95 per cent of those accounts was related to the post-1992 era.“The recommendation to close inactive accounts does not remove the need for reconciliation, but simply ensures that balances in those accounts are not available for misuse or abuse…Hence the recommendation to transfer to the Consolidated Fund…This is a matter that has been unattended for many years now.”NOT REAL MONEYHead of State Bharrat Jagdeo during his press briefing sought to explain that the accounts did not hold actual cash; rather, they were just figures.According to Jagdeo, “When you speak of several billion dollars lying in dormant accounts it is not real cash,Jerseys NFL Wholesale, it is a book entry…It is not money that you can transfer to the government and the government could spend.”He emphasised that bringing “them” into the books was not paying over cash to the government, it was just an accounting entry.“It creates the impression that there is money to be spent and the government is not transferring it because of some corrupt motive.”As regards the report for specific agencies, many of the adverse comments, according to Murray,Wholesale Authentic NFL Jerseys, that were reflected in the report–overpayment on contracts, clearing of cheque orders, overpayment of salaries to staff, failure to comply with stores regulations and failure to comply with the law on procurement–are matters that have been repeatedly raised in previous reports of the Auditor General, but nothing has been done to have these undesirable and illegal occurrences corrected.This,Cheap MLB Jerseys, according to PNCR’s Volda Lawrence, Head of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), clearly indicates that no corrective measures are being put in place to ensure that there is no reoccurrence.It was also noted that the PAC, on February 14, last,Nike Air Max 95 For Sale, laid in the National Assembly its report on the examination of the Auditor General’s reports for 2002 and 2003.The examination for 2004 and 2005 is complete except for one agency which has to be sent back to do over its comments.“Under National Assembly Standing Order 82 (3), the government is required to submit a Treasury Memorandum to the National Assembly indicating the government’s response to the reports of the PAC…This is required to be done within 90 days of the submission of the PAC report…“Thus the Treasury Memorandum in response to the PAC report for 2002 and 2003 should have been submitted to the National Assembly by mid-May 2008…Up to this time no such memorandum has been forthcoming…“Since many of the problems identified in the Auditor General’s reports are of a recurring nature the tabling of the Treasury Memorandum, even for years long past, would have given an indication of the government’s seriousness in addressing the issues raised in the PAC reports.”
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