– as AG decries slow pace of investigationInvestigations into discrepancies in the National School Feeding Programme are grinding along, with sources informing Guyana Times that some Police Officers who were handling the case were at one point transferred.A group of students enjoying lunch at the Shulinab Primary School, South Central Rupununi, Region NineWhile the Police Officers have been transferred, it is unclear if this was a routine rotation or a punitive act. Efforts to contact top officials in the Guyana Police Force (GPF) were futile. When contacted, Auditor General Deodat Sharma informed this publication that the investigation should have been completed by now.“I don’t know why it’s taking so long … I’m not very satisfied with that. We need to put a close to that aspect of it. I think they’re taking too long, because it was an area that was very clear-cut. I don’t know what’s happening there,” Sharma said.The National School Feeding Programme targets all nursery and primary school students in Grades One and Two. It was implemented in Regions One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and 10 and Georgetown. Regions Seven, Eight and Nine are treated separately. The meals consist of biscuits and juices.But the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the education sector, which was completed since 2017, had recommended that an investigation be launched into the Feeding Programme to ensure Government was getting value for money.Following this recommendation, State Auditors had embarked on this very investigation targeting the Programme. They had reportedly found major “spending” inconsistencies plaguing the Programme in two remote villages in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) during the period 2016-2017.Notwithstanding the lofty ideals of the Programme, coordinators in the red-flagged region have reportedly been abusing the responsibility and power vested in them. Particular scrutiny was brought to bear on the expenditures for each meal and that revealed costs were inflated. This had raised further queries as to whether the correct procurement procedures were followed during the award of the contracts.Millions of dollars ($1.3 billion and $1.9 billion in 2016 and 2017 respectively) were injected into the initiative, which was implemented in the 10 administrative regions following its re-launch in 2010 by former President and now Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.According to media reports, funds allocated to the Feeding Programme for the Kato Secondary School were even diverted to other areas.Still unaccounted forWhen it was released last year, the AG’s 2017 report had found that $52.5 million was still unaccounted for in the controversial programme. It was noted that State auditors examined the records of 11 schools in Regions Seven and Nine. Some $73.6 million was allocated to the programme in those schools which was supposed to go towards feeding 2189 students.But the report revealed that key documentation, such as bank reconciliation statements, was not presented to the auditors. As such, the AG could not even determine whether the sum, which was received by eight schools, was ever deposited into the bank in one lump sum.“The absence of this key control measure can lead to the perpetration of wrongdoing, without prompt detection,” the report notes, while adding that there was no evidence of supervisory checks of cash books by the management committee in three of the schools.“Supervisory checks were also absent in the stock ledgers and goods received book for six schools in Region Nine … the safeguarding of public funds was compromised. Moreover, cash was kept in the personal possession of the treasurers in eight schools. This unsatisfactory situation could lead to the perpetration of wrongdoing,” the report states.In its response, the Ministry acknowledged the AG’s findings, but it was pointed out that the programme itself was in the process of being transitioned from central management to community-based management.
0Shares0000Kariobangi sharks players celebrate after clinching the 2019 SportPesa Cup at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on January 29. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluDAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Jan 27 – Kariobangi Sharks are the new champions of the SportPesa Cup after beating Bandari by a solitary goal in the final at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Sunday evening.Crowd favorite Harrison Mwenda scored the lone goal on the hour mark to hand Sharks their second major trophy since gaining promotion to the top tier in 2017. The young squad not only fly back home with a bumper Sh3mn cheque to their credit but also earn an opportunity to face English Premier League outfit Everton FC in a friendly match at the Moi Sports Centre in Kasarani in July this year.The two coaches maintained their strongest teams with Sharks’ William Muluya making only one change, Shaphan Oyugi starting ahead of the suspended Sven Yidah. Duke Abuya who was a huge doubt having limped off in the semis was passed fit to start the tie.Bandari caused the first scare in the second minute of the game when the exciting Abdallah Hassan struck a low shot from the right but keeper John Oyemba made a good save to turn the ball behind for a corner.In the 10th minute, David King’atua’s freekick from the right landed on Bernard Odhiambo’s head at the backpost but his nod went just wide.Bandari’s Abdallah Hassan is closely watched by Kariobangi Sharks defender Michael Bodo during their SportPesa Cup final match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on January 27, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluKing’atua had a go at goal himself in the 21st minute with a freekick at the edge of the box when Yema Mwana was axed by Tom Teka, but his powerful effort went just over.Five minutes later, Oyemba was forced into a brilliant save, diving to his left to palm away the ball after Mwana had latched onto a cross from Hassan.Sharks were almost punished after skipper Patillah Omotto lost the ball cheaply in a dangerous area and Hassan picked it up to send in a cross.Sharks were not in their usual element and kept losing the ball especially in the middle of the pack and didn’t create many chances either.In the 36th minute, Bandari keeper Faruk Shikhalo almost gifted Sharks a goal when he came off his line and George Abege beat him to the ball to set up Vincent Wasambo. However, the midfielder chose to swing in a cross instead of going for goal and the Bandari defense cleared.They came very close in the second minute of added time when Abege won the ball at the edge of the box and shot on the turn, but the effort went inches wide.Kariobangi Sharks defender Michael Bodo passes the ball under pressure from bandari’s Darius Msagha during their SportPesa Cup final match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on January 27, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluSharks came back a bit more organized in the second half and had a sniff at goal just two minutes into the second 45 when Abege tried his luck from a distance, his shot pushed away for a corner by Shihalo.Bandari boss Bernard Mwalala made an eye raising change, bringing off midarks made a change, Mwendwa making way for Eric Juma as Muluya now sought to lock the game with a one goal lead.Mwalala made more change, Mwana and King’atua coming off for Keegan Ndemi and Darius Msagha, changes that were meant to bolster the attack.But, Sharks kept possession, choosing to deny Bandari any sight of the ball.Muluya made more changes, Sidney Lokale coming on for Abege while with five minutes left defender John Kuol came on for Vincent Wasambo to add more bodies behind the ball.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)