January 26 ,2021
The Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall has instructed the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to prepare for a forensic audit of the municipality from tomorrow.
At a statutory meeting of the city council yesterday, Acting Town Clerk Julian Orgista made the announcement stating that all areas of the council are expected to be audited. He said that following the instruction for the audit, it is expected that the council will make the necessary arrangements for the accommodation of the staff who will be undertaking the exercise.
Mayor Ubraj Narine, when addressing the issue, stated that while the council is not opposed to having an audit done, the Terms of Reference must be given to the council.
He further explained that as advised by officials, there is a difference between a forensic audit and an extraordinary audit, and added that the Minister only has the power to order the latter.
He charged that Dharamlall does not know his role and must be schooled on Chapter 28:01 of the Municipal and District Councils Act.
Narine further questioned the manner in which Dharamlall handled the matter.
Quoting the Act, he said that “The auditor shall give the treasurer one month’s notice in writing of the date on which he intends to commence the audit of the accounts of the council.” No such notice was given.
Additionally, he highlighted the sections of the act which spoke to auditing and shared that while the minister has the authority to conduct an extraordinary audit he cannot order a forensic audit.
Acting Town Clerk Orgista, while agreeing with Narine, quoted Chapter 28:01 of the Municipal and District Councils act, section 198 (1) which states that “The Minister may at any time request the auditor to hold an extraordinary audit of any accounts of a council; and a council may at any time and at their own expense request the auditor to hold an extraordinary audit of any of their accounts.
“(2) An extraordinary audit held under this section shall be deemed to be an audit for the purposes of this Part and the provisions of this Part other than those requiring the preparation and submission of a financial statement of the accounts and the deposit of the accounts together with any book or document relating thereto for inspection and the giving of notice thereof, shall apply accordingly.”
Narine said that he wrote to the Auditor General Deodat Sharma in August of 2020 requesting a financial audit of the council for the year 2019 but did not receive an answer.
He stated that the request came as a result of the council’s decision for the audit to also focus on departmental areas but was informed that it could not be done by the auditor general.
Narine further shared that the council is yet to receive a complete forensic audit report from the auditor general of a previous audit done.