The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) says that it remains committed to honour an offer by accountant, Christopher Ram, to conduct a forensic audit on the recently commissioned Enmore packaging plant.
The commitment, via a statement Tuesday, came shortly after the refusal by the Auditor General to allow it.
According to GuySuCo Tuesday, it "remains committed to its offer of a forensic audit of Project Gold at Enmore by Mr. Christopher Ram."
The statement also noted that the offer was made by the Minister of Agriculture,Robert Persaud, after Ram and Kaieteur News questioned the cost of the packaging plant which is just one aspect of the Project Gold.
While GuySuCo's Chief Executive Officer, Paul Bhim, was not immediately available to explain the statement Tuesday, a senior official who asked not to be named, insisted that the Corporation was more than willing to open its books.
"The law is the law...if that is what the Auditor General said, then GuySuCo will have to live with it."
Bhim in a letter, dated Friday, wrote Ram informing him that the Auditor General has not given approval for the Forensic Audit of Project Gold to proceed.
But Ram is insisting that a forensic investigation, tax compliance work or consulting service, does not fall within the Audit Act and therefore does not require any form of approval by the Auditor General.
Even on an unnecessarily wide reading of the Audit Act the Auditor General does not have a final or overriding jurisdiction in the matter, Ram said.
According to Ram, had Deodat Sharma, the acting Auditor General, been better inclined or informed he might have advised GuySuCo that, notwithstanding his [Sharma's] "inflated sense of his authority", the "Minister responsible for finance [could] request the Public Accounts Committee to cause an additional audit to be conducted by an auditor other than the Auditor General."
The reason for the audit arose after questions were asked about Project Gold, under which the plant at Enmore was built. Ram had raised questions about the cost and suitability of the plant.
On May 24, the Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud threw out the challenge for the plant to be audited, once it does not incur any costs on the part of the government or GuySuco.
Two days later, Ram accepted the challenge and Kaieteur News agreed to foot the bill.
Tuesday, Managing Director and Publisher of Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall, explained that rather than Kaieteur News footing the bill for the forensic audit, it was he who would have been "pushing his hands into his pockets."
He said that his newspaper has no problem with the sugar company. "Kaieteur News has its role in this society. This role is not about confronting GuySuCo."
Agriculture Minister, Robert Persaud, issued the challenge for the forensic audit, he had said "I am not bluffing. Whenever Mr. Ram is ready, he can make contact with the Chief Executive Officer of GuySuCo, Paul Bhim, and the audit will be accommodated."
Ram met with Bhim on June 7 "to discuss the terms and conditions of the engagement" but Ram said his impression from the meeting was that GuySuCo was not interested in the exercise, with its management indicating that the Corporation would not consider itself the client. (Kaieteur News)