Opposition parties, APNU and AFC today called for the release of the Cost Recovery Audit, contending that the two-year wait over claims that the Audit Firm – IHS Markit – did not comply with international best practices, is unacceptable.
The Final Cost Recovery Audit, produced and submitted by IHS Markit for the period 1999-2017, found that 12.8% or US$214M of ExxonMobil’s US$1.67B expenses were not supported by sufficient documentation, and were therefore questionable.
The report was submitted since July 2020.
But the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Natural Resources Ministry, in objecting to the “final report,” said the UK Audit Firm did not comply with international audit standards and practices, and had also breached the contractual agreement.
But Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, while describing GRA’ explanation as “strange,” said the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has used “disinformation and outright lies” to hide the true status of the Audit Report.
“With inflated expenses to the tune of US$214M and government doing nothing for two years, means that Guyana and its people have been denied a minimum of US$25M,” the AFC Leader said.
The AFC Leader said it is clear now more than ever, that the Government is dodging issues of transparency and accountability.
“We further feel that some faustinian deal has been worked out between Government and Exxon to not renegotiate the agreement nor scrutinize cost oil. In consideration, Exxon will grant to the PPP Government moneys at the beck and call, and whim and fantasy of the Government like recently happened in the matter of moneys for the construction of a stadium at Corentyne. This would only lead to a deformed accountability and transparency system and a bypass of the constitutional and statutory framework for public moneys,” Ramjattan contended.
Ramjattan said it is incumbent on the Government to release the audit report for public consumption and parliamentary deliberation.
Meanwhile, Advisor to the Leader of the Opposition, Elson Lowe said the Government must protect the interest of Guyana in the development of the Oil and Gas Sector. However, he said from the opposition’s point of view, the Government has shown little interest in completing the audit cycle.
“Despite the magnitude of the sums involved, the government’s attitude reeks of collusion, negligence and recklessness. We must therefore be fearful with regards to the second audit being conducted by VHE Consulting for the period 2018-2020, which involves the sum of US$7.3B — that is, a sum over four times larger than the first audit,” Lowe said.
Like the AFC Leader, Mr. Lowe said the Government must release all the audit reports and recover all invalid expenses.
Lowe said it is important for the Government to get the report right to ensure that Guyanese fully and fairly benefit from the proceeds of oil.
In a statement earlier this week, the Guyana Revenue Authority said given a number of legal, procedural and accounting concerns, it could not grant its no objection to the audit report, even after the report was revised and submitted in 2021.