Funds pumped into Audit Office for oil and gas

Last Updated on Monday, 30 January 2023, 16:28 by Denis Chabrol

The Audit Office of Guyana is employing eight persons to strengthen its capacity to audit Guyana’s oil a d gas sector, Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Gail Teixeira said Monday.

She was advised of that plan by Auditor General Dr Deodat Sharma during consideration of estimates of expenditure in the 2023 National Budget. Ms Teixeira said the Oil and Gas unit was now being set up and so money has been budgeted for that.

That disclosure was made after questions were raised by Shadow Finance Minister Volda Lawrence about the increase in allocation for the Audit Office from GY$109,170 million to GY$819,562 million in 2023.

Ms Teixeira said the hike was due to the 8 percent salary increase and the bipartisan parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has approved the appointment of a number of persons as Audit Manager.

The Committee of Supply, which considers and approves the estimates, also heard that GY$40 million is expected to be spent on the renting of properties to host polling stations for Local Government Elections that are scheduled for this year.

Ms Lawrence queried why the Guyana Elections Commission has been allocated GY$71 million this year for two rounds of claims and objections and local government elections in contrast to GY$171 million in 2022. She seemed to have suggested that the Commission was given less money although it needed to do more to educate the public.  “This is an area especially the education of the electors that the Commission is always lacking in,” she said.

But the Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs explained that the reduced allocation this year took account of the fact that almost all of the training if temporary staff for Local Government Elections last year and there would be “mop-up training”.

Based on explanations given to Ms Lawrence by Ms Teixeira, GY$1.3 billion have been allocated for Local Government Elections that are likely to be held this year. Last year, GY$2.9 billion was allocated for the polls that should have been held in March 2023.  GECOM has to resolve a number of matters related to the demarcation of a number of boundaries.

Also, the Committee of Supply approved GY$28.2 million for the Office of the Opposition Leader’s recurrent expenditure for 2023 .