Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
TAXPAYERS CONTINUE to be saddled with massive cost burdens in the public sector brought on by the poor management of state-run entities by some public servants.
Approximately $350 million in unapproved expenditure was paid by various state agencies, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis has found.
"The audits identified 15 entities with unapproved expenditure totalling $194.3 million, GBP 1.1 million, and US$1.7 million," Monroe Ellis said in her report to Parliament.
Additionally, Monroe Ellis found that five public-sector entities made payments amounting to J$836,928 and US$122,261, which were made in breach of the stipulated rules and guidelines or without the requisite approval.
The audits also identified several instances of overpayments amounting to $31.05 million.
$130.5 million outstanding
Monroe Ellis said the government entities have recovered only $3.78 million of the overpaid amount. The auditor general said an analysis of the past four years revealed that some $130.5 million, which was overpaid by government bodies, remains uncollected.
In the meantime, the auditor general said her department audits identified breaches of the Government's prescribed rules for the procurement of goods and services costing approximately $287 million involving 12 entities.
"These include failure to obtain the requisite approval from the NCC as well as to invite the required competitive price quotations before awarding contracts for less than $10 million," Monroe Ellis said.
She added: "I was therefore often unable to determine how those organisations satisfied themselves that the prices paid were fair and reasonable."
The Post and Telecommunications Department, for example, failed to observe the procurement guidelines and paid approximately $40.4 million to a security firm without a formal contract.
"Consequently, the Government's interest was not protected and it may prove difficult to claim remedy in the event of non-performance," the auditor general said.
The auditor general said the Post and Telecommunications Department suffered losses of approximately $14 million because one of its mail vans was intercepted and its contents stolen.
The matter was reported and is being investigated by the police.
In another instance of disregard for the Government's procurement guidelines, the Court Management Services, which operates out of the Ministry of Justice, awarded seven telecommunication contracts costing approximately $20 million.
The auditor general also found that competitive tendering was not used to employ a consultant being paid annual emoluments of $2.98 million.
"The Court Management Services' failure to adhere to the government procurement rules has impaired the transparency and accountability of the procurement process," Monroe Ellis commented.