Auditor General examines Valuation Division’s spending

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Auditor General Jaiwantie Ramdass. –

AUDITOR General Jaiwantie Ramdass questioned the whereabouts of an expensive drone seemingly bought for the ongoing exercise of house valuations ahead of the introduction of property tax, in her Report of the Auditor General on the public Accounts of TT (2023) laid in the House of Representatives last Friday.

The drone was one of two purchased for the Valuation Division of the Ministry of Finance.

The report said, “A cheque dated September 27, 2023 in the amount of $206,356 was found to have been prepared in favour of a supplier for two drones with accessories.

“During a physical verification exercise in November 2023, the first drone was seen while the second drone was not yet received by the division.”

The report queried the engagement of a consultant for the Valuation Division.

“Documentation to support the payment of $81,591 for the services of a consultant of the International Property Tax Institute was not presented for audit examination.

The report had concerns over contract employment and short-term employment.

“Signed agreements of employment for nine officers recruited on contract were not produced for audit examination. As a result, terms and conditions of employment could not be ascertained.

“The hiring procedure for recruitment of persons on a short-term basis was not produced for audit examination.”

Otherwise, no evidence of internal audit checks was ever found on the accounting records which the Auditor General examined.

“These included pay sheets, payment vouchers, vote book, schedules of accounts, personal files and pay record cards.”

The Auditor General was concerned about equipment purchase at the Valuation Division.

“A payment voucher totalling $73,000 for the purchase of two printers did not contain information regarding the date paid nor the cheque number.

“Approval from iGovTT to purchase 15 laptops at a cost of $166,936 was not seen.

The report said during a physical verification exercise it was noted that items of office equipment bore no marks to identify them as State property, thereby increasing the risk of theft or loss.