2016 Auditor General ReportWith several accounting officers admitting before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) when it recently met to various financial infractions, concerns are being raised that this points to a systemic lack of standards.In an interview with Guyana Times, financial consultant John Seeram noted that capacity building among the various regional administrations would go a far way to minimising the flagrant abuses identified in the Auditor General’s 2016 report.Seeram, who is also the Chairman of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Guyana chapter, acknowledged that the administrations of the 10 Regions have internal auditors. At the same time, he questioned their efficiency.Institute of Internal Auditors Chairman John Seeram“They need more training. And in so doing, they must be able to know that they must work along with management in order to meet the financial goals of the Region. And that is where the Institute of Internal Auditors come in, because we normally mount at least three to four seminars a year on pertinent topics relating to the practice of accounting and auditing in the public service.“And I believe that once they attend those seminars, that could be a way of professional development for our internal auditors. As it stands right now, I would venture to say that there is need for more training for the internal auditors so as to minimise the comments made by the Auditor General in his report,” Seeram stated.Fiscal abuseRecently, a showdown had ensued at the PAC between Committee Chairman Irfaan Ali and Regional Executive Officer (REO) Rupert Hopkinson over the Region Two administration’s financial indiscretions.Prior to the meeting, Hopkinson had made an official response to the 2016 Audit Report’s findings. Ali had pointed to a number of disturbing trends from the explanations. He cited a section of the foreword of Hopkinson’s response, where he noted the administration was not disputing it used current allocations to fund capital projects.Under fire from Ali, the REO had claimed that these were all projects of an emergency nature. At this point, Ali had slammed Hopkinson for being aware of breaches to the law yet going ahead with the projects out of the belief that they were in the best interest of the Region.The projects included the construction of a bus shed at Dartmouth, construction of the Anna Regina Health Centre, construction of a fence at Unity Park Phase One, construction of a fence at Unity Park Phase Two, and construction of a sitting area at Cotton Field and landing at Liberty, Pomeroon.Hopkinson’s contention is that the works were of an emergency nature, requested from the heads of programmes within the regional administration. In his official response, he has also stressed that the projects would have benefited residents.Notably, Hopkinson, in his explanation, had stated: “We seek pardon for any contravention of policy, on the grounds that the Region saved $500 million from 2016 to date… on this score, the administration of Pomeroon-Supenaam Region is of the opinion that the Region should be commended for its judicious spending of Government budgetary allocations…in the face of a culture of dishonesty.”City Hall was also placed in the limelight earlier this year after complaints from Auditor General Deodat Sharma over his inability to access certain documents during a previous audit. Following threats to seek criminal charges, the Council provided these documents at a subsequent PAC meeting.Under a barrage of questions, City Treasurer Ron McAlmont had resolutely refused to provide an explanation for the delay in the handing over of information auditors have been after since the initial audit in 2017.The Audit Office of Guyana had found that as at December 31, 2016, $396.5 million was expended. From the start, City Hall’s financial status, how it spent almost $175 million and its failure to submit documentation dating from 2005 posed a challenge to the PAC.Then, the PAC had clashed with the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) last month over the fact that a programme that was approved by the National Assembly was revised despite works already commencing.GWI Executive Director for Project Implementation, Ramchand Jailal had faced the brunt of questioning from the PAC. He related that during 2016, the original programme was revised.While GWI and the Communities Ministry had held out that no wrongdoing was done when it revised the terms of the Hinterland Water Supply programme, the Auditor General had informed them of their liability in the matter.“Mr Chair, that’s a breach of the Fiscal Act. The FMA [Fiscal Management and Accountability] Act says unspent balances must be refunded to the Consolidated Fund. But you only got the approval on 29 of December. So you are covering yourself afterwards. So that’s a breach,” Sharma had explained.PAC Chairman Ali has already made calls for harsher penalties for those who commit financial crimes, besides what the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act already provides for.
Julie was born in Liverpool and after travelling the world in 1990, she settled in Donegal Town. A mum of two, Julie is married to Jack who is an Aikido teacher with the highest grade in Ireland!Julie works with Lifestart, a child development programme for parents of under 3s in South Donegal, and she runs Parentstop one day a week in Donegal Town. A busy woman, Julie loves to travel and enjoys walking, yoga, and doing all she can to assist those in need by organising charity events.With the help of her daughter, Leela, she established the charity ‘Share the Warmth’ which invites people to knit hats, scarves, or even squares to share with people living on the street or in cold accommodation to keep cosey in the winter months. Julie was recently involved in the hugely succesful Red & Purple Walk which raised much needed funds for the refurbishment of Donegal Hospital.Speaking about the hospital, she said; “Our vision is to create a home from home environment which offers comfort and pleasant surroundings for the patients and their family and friends.”This is Julie’s Donegal…(1) What is your favourite place in Donegal and why?I have to say the Fanad peninsula. The scenery is breath taking(2 )If you could change one thing about Donegal what would it be?The weather! Or more facilities for recreational purposes.(3) Who is the one person in Donegal that you look up to and why?I don’t think I actually look up to anyone, but if you ask me who I admire in Donegal I’d have to say Clive Alcorn for what he’s achieved in building up Tropical World in Letterkenny.(4) Daniel O’Donnell or Packie Bonner?Ooh that’s difficult. As I’m not the least bit interested in country music or soccer so that’s a tough choice. I’ll say Daniel O’Donnell though as he does a lot of charity work.(5) What has been Donegal’s proudest moment in recent years?Standing up for their rights and voting no in referendums for the Fiscal Treaty and both Lisbon Treaties! (6) What has been the biggest compliment you’ve ever received?From a relative who told me they call me Pollyanna (a character in a book) as she said I have a great outlook on life and I always look for the positiveFun-loving Pollyanna as played by Hayley Mills in the Disney adaption of the Eleanor H. Porter novel(7) What is your favourite Donegal-made product?Kelp powder from Carrick. It’s full of nutrients and iodine which is important for us mature ladies.(8) Who is Donegal’s greatest ambassador around the world and why?I’m not really sure who represents us around the world but I would nominate Mary and Ernan McGettigan for being great ambassadors for Donegal all round Ireland.They lead the committees who organise the Food Festival, Summer Festival and a Taste of Christmas a in Donegal Town and all these festivals bring people from all over Ireland. The Food Festival actually brings people from all over Europe and America. I suppose they actually could be our greatest ambassadors around the world.(9) Who is Donegal’s most successful businessperson in your opinion?Definitely Clive Alcorn from Alcorn’s Garden Centre in Letterkenny. He’s responsible for Tropical World and has ploughed money into it every year to create a really awesome animal sanctuary.His love of the animals and his passion and enthusiasm is so refreshing. He really is creating his own dream and he has a great bunch working with him.(10) Who is your favourite Donegal sportsperson of all time?Again, I’m not into sport really but I do like Seamie Coleman as he’s a great footballer and a really nice person. My dad would disown me for that as he was a staunch Liverpool supporter!(11) What is your favourite Donegal restaurant?I’ll have to choose somewhere in Donegal Town as I live there. You can’t get a better Indian than Chandpur in Donegal Town.(12) Donegal’s golden eagles or basking sharks?Another hard choice, but probably basking sharks. They’re a bit more lovable than sharp clawed, razor beaked eagles!(13) What is your favourite Donegal saying or expression?“Sure, it’s grand”!(14) What is the biggest challenge facing the people of Donegal today?The limited opportunities here. I think it’s really sad that people, particularly young people, have to leave their homes to be able to fulfil their dreams.(15) What is your favourite Donegal food?I’m vegetarian so we don’t really get much choice in restaurants. Donegal don’t really have a “special” or “traditional” food when it comes to vegetarianism!(16) Is there anything that really annoys you about Donegal or its people?Probably the time keeping! Also, the lack of awareness that some drivers have for other people on the road.(17) Do you have a favourite local band?Yeah, can I have 2? Humble earthworms and Serial Twin!(18) If you had a million euro to improve something in Donegal what would it be?I would create a Barefoot Park in Ards Forest Park. I recently experienced one in the Black Forest, Germany. It was 2.5 kms of all different underfoot material eg mud, sand, nails heads, broken sea glass, bark, pine cones etc and it was an awesome experience and really made you aware of what you were walking on. It’s something that can be enjoyed by all ages and in all weathers.(19) What is your favourite part about being organising a charity event?I have to say the amazing support from the local people. We were blown away by the generosity and positive feedback we got from everyone and by the amount of people who turned up for the walk in Purple and Red. Such a great community.(20) Is there anything about Donegal that you are very proud of?Again, the awesome community spirit. When Donegal people like what you’re doing, they give 100 per cent support.Julie with her friends during the Purple & Red fundraising weekend earlier this monthHow to donate to Julie’s initiative to improve Donegal Hospital:If anyone would still like to donate, you can make cheques to “Purple and Red Ladies”.Or pay straight into bank with the following details:IBAN IE57AIBK93730428899074BIC AIBKIE2DJulie asks that you put your name in the reference so they can thank those who have donated.My Donegal… with activist Julie Voss! was last modified: September 28th, 2016 by Elaine McCalligShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:charitydonegal hospitalDonegal Townjulie vossMY DONEGALred and purple walkshare the warmth