September 25, 2016

REO, Chairman spar over issue at RDC meeting

Unpaid Region 2 trench cleaners

By Indrawattie Natram

Following reports about several trench cleaners and contractors vouchers’ piling up in the Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) Regional Executive Officer Rupert Hopkinson’s office, he has since said that he needed time to examine them keenly before signing off.

The issue of unpaid vouchers was raised at the last statutory meeting of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) as Councillors contended that numerous contractors and trench cleaners were owed.

At a special meeting, which was convened on Tuesday to deal with key issues affecting the RDC, Hopkinson said that on a daily basis, his office was flocked with members of the public hence he has less time to invest in signing off on vouchers. He is, therefore, suggesting public officers have two public days weekly so as to lessen the number of persons visiting his office.

Region Two Chairman Devanand Ramdatt noted at the meeting that in the interest of accountability, timely and proper verification was needed. Ramdatt said the slow signing of vouchers could affect the budgeting and finance system as the longer vouchers were held up, the more difficult the verification process would be.

At that point, Hopkinson stated, “I am new and, therefore, I need to spend time in looking carefully at these vouchers. I have signed vouchers for $30 million for supplies in two months; the Region is buying $20 million in lumber to repair bridges. I need to examine; I need to review. I am liable at the end of the day; I can’t rush.”

Hopkinson further told the meeting comprising Heads of Department from various sectors that he has not signed trench cleaners’ vouchers in three months. He said after some months he visited the sub- treasury department where he discovered that the vouchers were already signed and they did not reach his desk.

“I have not signed a single trench cleaner voucher in three months. I am not sure who signed them, but my concern is how they have passed and are the trenches cleaned according to specification,” Hopkinson argued.

He said it was time to look for mistakes and misdeeds that have happened and to look for those who were frauds in the system. The REO, who is the accounting officer, said he perused keenly page by page all vouchers before inking his signature.

Coalition Councillor Naithram stated that there needed to be proper monitoring and a verification system before trench cleaners’ vouchers are signed.

At the last RDC meeting, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Councillors reported that trench cleaners were owed. The Deputy REO, who was filling in as clerk for Hopkinson, who was on vacation leave, said that indeed stockpiles of vouchers were lying on the REO’s desk waiting to be signed.

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