Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 14th 2015 Contents A5
Thursday, May 14, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The leakage of funds from gov-
ernment ministries and depart-
ments continues to be a major con-
cern to the Auditor General in the
wake of the discovery of over $96.9
million in overpayments related
wages and entitlement to public
sector workers over the past four
In the 2014 report of the Auditor
General on the public accounts of
T&T, which was laid in the Senate
on Tuesday, the Auditor General s
Department, headed by Majeed Ali,
said the overpayments or unautho-
rised payments were of major con-
cern "since they not only represent
a leakage of public funds but result
in time and resources being spent
on accounting, recovering, reporting
It also said "emotional factors"
were involved for those affected in
the recovery process.
payments related to salaries, pen-
sions, allowances and wages.
The report said since 1988
guidelines had been given by the
Comptroller of Accounts "for
reducing the incidents of overpay-
ments and unauthorised pay-
But not withstanding that up to
last year (2014) there were 4,449
cases of overpayments, valued at
more than $23 million, while just
over $12 million of that amount
was recovered, it added.
It said for 2011 there were over-
payments of more than $20.3 mil-
lion in Government ministries and
departments with only $8.4 million
One year later, in 2012, the over-
payment figure increased to $21.4
million but the recovered figure
decreased to $8 million. In 2013
more than $31 million was overpaid
with only $16.1 million recovered.
In the four-year period, the
report showed there were 20,773
cases of overpayments, with rough-
ly 47 per cent, some $45.5 million,
recovered over these years.
For fiscal 2014, the Education
Ministry reported the largest over-
There were 72 cases, totalling
$6.2 million, with only $1.4 of that
amount recovered. There was also
$5.2 million overpayment in the
Ministry of National Security with
$4.4 million recovered and a $5.7
million overpayment in the T&T
Police Service, with almost all the
After a hiatus from the Parlia-
ment, UNC founder and former
prime minister Basdeo Panday has
aspirations to return as the MP for
Siparia after the 2015 general elec-
Panday, rather tongue-in-cheek,
declared his intention to contest
either the Siparia or his old Couva
North constituency after he had an
emissary collect a UNC nomination
form at the Rienzi Complex yester-
day to begin the process.
He spoke to members of the
media at his office in the same build-
"There are a few constituencies
I am looking at... Siparia is one of
them and Couva North. A nomina-
tion form has been collected on my
behalf," he said.
Asked whether his interest in the
form meant he was considering re-
entering frontline politics, Panday
responded: "Well I have to decide.
I have been inundated by requests
from the grassroots."
However, Panday said the UNC
today was not the one he and others
founded 26 years ago.
He added: "The UNC today is not
the UNC which was founded by us.
As a matter of fact, not a single one
of them (current executive) was there
when this party was formed.
"That party had a very clear vision
of the society. It knew where it
wanted to go and was strongly
against waste, nepotism and cor-
"The present party is little dif-
ferent from the PNM, in that it tol-
erates waste, corruption, misman-
agement and it s guilty of
When asked what he would do if
he did decide to run but was not
selected by the UNC s screening
committee, Panday said: "That is
in the future, I can t say for now."
Despite the hints that he is poised
to re-enter the political arena, Pan-
day said the outcome of this year s
general election would change noth-
ing for the people of the country
until there was constitutional reform.
"Nothing will happen to the coun-
try, no matter which party wins, we
have been doing this for 50 years.
"We have been voting in a political
system which is designed to keep
races apart and voting has been and
continues to be based on racial
groups," he added.
He said he believed the marginal
constituencies would be the deciding
factor of who would win the elec-
"There are certain marginal con-
stituencies and whoever wins those
will win the election. It is not going
to be by a large margin though," he
Panday also weighed in on the
suspension of Opposition leader Dr
Keith Rowley from the Parliament.
"I think one should wait until the
police and Integrity Commission
have finished their investigations
but the Parliament decided to throw
Dr Rowley out on a matter for which
the investigation is not complete.
That is strange but then this gov-
ernment can do anything," he said.
A total of 43 people collected
forms yesterday at the party s head-
quarters. The distribution of forms
continues until tomorrow at 4 pm.
Busy period for Auditor General
20,773 overpayment cases found in four years
'It's either that or Couva North'
According to the report, the
Auditor General has repeatedly
expressed the need for "controls
to be strengthened to minimise
the incidents of overpayments."
It said the regulations provide
for unauthorised payments or
overpayments to be reported to
the Comptroller of Accounts and
the Auditor General but "reports
were either not received or were
inconsistent with the
information disclosed in the
appropriation account in a
number of instances."
Dealing with expenditure
control in the Judiciary, the
report said payments totalling
$418,500 were made in
September 2014 for the
purchase of two vehicles but "at
the time of the audit in January
2015, these vehicles were not
seen to have been received."
The Auditor General said that
contravenes the existing
regulations "which requires
certification of payment
vouchers by the accounting
officer that items purchased
have been duly received and
taken on charge."
With respect to Parliament,
the report said pension and leave
records for 69 per cent of the
existing staff at the Parliament
"were noted to be updated
within the last two years (but)
there was no evidence that
records in respect of retirees
were submitted to the
Comptroller of Accounts three
months before the effective date
of retirement as required to
ensure prompt processing of
UNC founder and former prime minister Basdeo Panday arrives at the Rienzi Complex, Couva, yesterday.
PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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