Bharath: No proof for audits
By Miranda La Rose Tuesday, August 7 2012
The Ministry of Finance has no information that substantiates having a forensic audit done on the accounts of the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), or any of the other companies which the PNM was calling to be audited forensically.
Minister in the Ministry of Finance Vasant Bharath told Newsday yesterday by telephone, “I have not had any information that substantiates having at this point in time any forensic audit to be done on any of the companies, including the NLCB.”
Until that happens, he said, “I don’t see any reason for that to take place.”
Bharath made the remarks in response to PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds’ statement that through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Accounts (Enterprises) Committee a request will be made to the Office of the Auditor General for forensic audits to be done on the NLCB, Estate Management and Business Development Company (EMBDC), Community Improvement Services Limited (CISL), and Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA).
Hinds alleged corruption in procurement practices at these State entities saying that the PNM did not trust Government to conduct such audits.
“I have certainly not had any information on any of these organisations that would prompt me to have forensic audits as Mr Hinds is recommending,” he said.
“If Mr Hinds or anybody else were to provide substantiating information that could be incriminating,” he said, “then certainly we would investigate it.”
On the NLCB, which falls under the Ministry of Finance, Bharath said, “I’m not aware of questionable contracts being awarded, but certainly we take all concerns seriously. We would look to see if there is any merit or validity in what he said. Until something comes up that requires our attention, it would be business as usual.”
Meanwhile on the EMBDC, Minister of Housing, Land and Marine Affairs Dr Roodal Moonilal under whose portfolio the EMBDC now falls, announced two weeks ago that a team was investigating governance issues within the EMBDC over low cost rental of State lands to businesses on a month to month basis. The team was given 21 days to look at the systems and determine what needs to be done to strengthen the organisation. EMBDC managers had been renting thousands of acres of non-agricultural land to businesses sometimes for as little as $125 per acre, reportedly without the knowledge of the board or the line minister.
Until the results of that investigation are known, Bharath said, “it would be premature to say whether or not a forensic audit should be done on the EMBDC.”