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Gov’t cannot order forensic audit into “independent” GECOM – Harmon

Government has ruled out ordering a forensic audit into the operations of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), saying that it is now constitutionally an autonomous body.

“At this point in time, we will have no consideration to say let us do an audit of GECOM. These are now independent bodies and so we cannot go and say to them ‘do this or do that’,” Minister of State, Joseph Harmon told a post-cabinet news conference.

There have been calls in some circles for a forensic audit to be conducted at the country’s elections management authority in the wake of concerns about procurement practices that might have led the entity to purchase hundreds of millions of dollars of now unused radio communication sets.

The Auditor General is currently auditing GECOM’s books including the sourcing of the radio communication sets from a local company.

While the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) has since called for the contract of Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield not to be renewed due to GECOM’s procurement practices, he has said that he had had very little to do with purchases more than GYD$250,000.

Lowenfield said at that time, GECOM’s spending was being supervised by the Ministry of Finance and that purchases valued more than GYD$250,000 were passed through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) then to Cabinet that offered its no-objection.

The Commission has since been listed as a budget agency, following the change of government at the May, 2015 general elections.

The Minister of State suggested that any decision to call for a forensic audit has to come from the seven-member bipartisan Commission.  “The Commission is being run by Commissioners. They have a structure and the government and the people of Guyana will have to put pressure on that structure to function,” he said.

Three Commissioners have been nominated by the PPPC, the other three by the APNU and the chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally has been picked from a list of names that the then opposition had submitted to then President.

  • Col123

    Yeah.. We have some good use for those boys come 2020…they can thief how much they want…we have to spread the wealth so the boys can experience the good life…tax payers money does not matter…..this is the culture of these folks….they don’t even have to answer to their god !

    • rs dasai

      At the least, Mr. Harmon is transparently opaque. Does he care to say if such an audit was done to any ‘independent org such as GECOM?

      • Col123

        I am not sure what he means by ” independent” org!…it is taxpayers money and some one should be held accountable and represent their stewardship…

        • rs dasai

          Harmon is ‘trying’ to pull leather over our eyes.

  • Emile_Mervin

    It is true GECOM is now a constitutionally independent body, but it gets its funding from the public purse and most be audited annually like every other government agency.

    In the United States, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) is also independent, but since it gets its funding from the US Treasury, there has to be a public accounting of how public monies were spent. There’s an Inspector General attached to FEC to audit the agency in accordance with the General Accounting Office’s General Auditing Standards.

    For Harmon to say, therefore, that GECOM is an autonomous body that cannot be audited – following bombshell revelation of financial skulduggeries – is either a manifestation of his utter ignorance or he is protecting GECOM, which means it is not truly independent.

    BTW, the commissioners on the FEC each take turns serving as Chairman for one year, which may be a practice GECOM should adopt to prevent corruption. And the Chief Elections Officer, as well as all senior officials at GECOM, must be answerable to the Chairman and provide answers to commissioners.

    Harmon continues to be an Albatross around Granger’s neck!

  • Col123

    Here…I will help you..they are no better at corruption , greed, skullduggery and …etc…as them previous fellas…

  • cuffy

    Looks more real as things unfold ,that the elections were rigged,there seems to be a coverup somewhere,