Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 18th 2015 Contents A7
October 18, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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...says audit which shows
shoddy work on project flawed
The uncle of Parliamentary Secretary in the
Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries
Avinash Singh has described the 2014 audit done
by Ernst & Young into the Caroni Green Initiative
(CGI) project "as flawed" and is demanding a
Khemraj Singh, 47, was named in the report
for doing "poor quality land preparation and irri-
gation system" work on agricultural plots in the
Singh said the audit got into the media s hands
to make his nephew look bad.
"I am now hearing about all this...I had no idea
there was an audit and my name was involved.
This is a big shock to me."
Last week, Parliamentary Secretary in the Min-
istry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Avinash
Singh promised to launch an audit into CGI, stating
that monies invested into the project could not
be accounted for.
The audit stated that CGI hurriedly screened
tractor operators and did not search the market
for best prices.
"This fast tracking led to inefficient hiring of
tractor operators and eventually poor quality work,
engaging one main vendor, Khemraj Singh, to
develop most of the land, as he had the required
equipment available," the audit stated.
The work undertaken by Singh, the audit stated
"resulted in flooding of fields and the destruction
The audit also blamed Singh for providing a
poor irrigation system on agricultural plots, since
he was hired to develop and implement this sys-
Singh: It was a total failure, farmers got a raw
Singh denied the allegations, saying it was one-
sided, since approximately 20 farmers were not
asked to outline their problems and losses suffered
by Caroni 1975 Ltd, which managed the project.
Singh said "All my time, crops, labour and money
have gone down the drain." The Felicity farmer said
as a result of his involvement in the project, he
bought a fleet of heavy equipment after taking a
loan. "I still have to pay off $500,000 to the ADB."
PS in Agri Ministry responds: I have not seen
Singh (Avinash), in response to an e-mail, said he
had not seen the audit. "I am aware that my uncle
was among the farmers working with Caroni Green.
I am not aware of the details of his relationship
Asked if the ministry still intended to undertake
a fresh financial audit, Singh wrote "my information
on the concerns over CGI is based on discussions I
had with the Minister of Agriculture, Land and
graphs of several heaps of rotted mel-
ongene discarded in a field.
"This lack of planning and sched-
uling, coupled with an inadequate stor-
age facility resulted in losses for CGI
and the farmer," the report stated.
In a bid to get harvested crops off
their hands, CGI gave credit to whole-
salers and farmers, sold the goods below
the contract price, and gave away to
"CGI did not have the capability to
take the produce to market or sell on
the field. They were ill-prepared to
undertake the marketing and sale of
produce," the audit stated.
While Ernst and Young noted that
the responsibility for following up on
payment from creditors was not del-
egated to a specific person, the CGI
manager stated that legal action was
being taken against farmers who owed
them large sums of money for produce.
Ernst and Young also stated that they
could not confirm that all cash received
on the field was submitted to the
administrative assistant, while receipt
books were not restricted to authorised
personnel and payment vouchers com-
pleted for the disbursement of cash
were not consistently approved or sup-
It was also discovered that there were
"12 payment voucher numbers missing
from the sequence."
Although the accounting firm was
hired to review the project from January
2013 to January 2014, they also recorded
227 payment vouchers for the period
February 2014 to May 2014 that were
not pre-numbered or tracked to allow
for ease of reporting, while they were
unable to match the cash receipts to
the bank deposit slips, as this infor-
mation was not recorded.
Ernst and Young stated that "the
control environment around the storage
and management of cash at CGI was
The audit revealed that CGI laid no
emphasis on "accountability and there
was lack of documented policies and
procedures and inadequate guidance."
In conclusion, Ernst and Young rec-
ommended that CGI develop an organ-
isational structure to be approved by
a board of directors, farmers contracts
be reviewed and amended, harvesting
and cash processes be reviewed, ade-
quate storage facilities be developed
and an accounting system to track oper-
ational activities be implemented.
Admitting that there were
inconsistencies with the project,
former food production minister
Devant Maharaj said if the ministry
wanted to undertake another audit, it
would be done at the taxpayers'
He said since CG was formed the
project has yielded results.
"I don't know if the PNM want to throw away
money. The PNM continues its witch hunting
Maharaj said he never ordered that CGI be rushed.
"That audit was comissioned by me based on the
complaints I got from farmers. I was displeased
with the implementation of the project."
Maharaj said of the $22 million CG received $14
million was still in its coffers when he left office.
Maharaj has since insisted that CG has
maintained a healthy financial standing, operating
well within its appointed stipulations and
continuing to lower the food import bill.
The company, up to August 2014, Maharaj said,
harvested 290 metric tonnes of produce, some of
which were supplied to the National School Feeding
Grimes: I will await the outcome of PNM's audit
Chairman of CG Nigel Grimes said he was not
privy to the first audit.
"If another audit is being contemplated by the
ministry on Caroni 1975 Ltd and its project CGI, I
would prefer to await the outcome of the audit
Singh: There was lack of accountability
Kevin Singh said he saw and read the report.
"There was a lack of policies, procedures and
systems in place. There was lack of accountability.
All the findings in the report are correct."
Asked what created the problems, Singh said he
preferred not to say "because I don't know where
this matter will reach."
Singh said Jagroo who was in charge of the
project no longer worked at Caroni 1975 Ltd.
"I was just the chief financial officer."
Questioned if it was a case of the candle costing
more than the funeral, Singh said if the production
cost was $9 million and sales were $1.7 million
"what do you expect?"
Jagroo: I was not given an opportunity to
Jagroo said after he left Caroni 1975 Ltd he was
never shown a copy of the audit.
"I did not see it (audit) and nobody came to ask
me any questions. I was not given an opportunity to
examine its contents. I heard all of the problems,
but nothing was brought to my attention. I don't
want to get into these things at all. I am a private
Rambharat: Ministry proposes to get legal
advice on audit
Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries
Clarence Rambharat in response to a text message
yesterday wrote, "I have read the final audit. There
will be no further audit on CGI at this time. The
ministry proposes to get legal advice on the final
audit report. Caroni Green Ltd is currently under
review as part of the ministry's review of all its
state companies and agencies."
Devant: PNM on
From Page A6
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