Opposition Member of Parliament Colm Imbert and Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds are planning to request a special audit into several State companies.
In their capacity as chairmen of the Board of Public Accounts, they are to request that the Auditor General conduct special audits into the procurement operations of the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), the Estate Management Board (EMBD), the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) and the Education Facilities Co Ltd (EFCL).
Imbert made the announcement yesterday at a People's National Movement (PNM) media briefing held at the office of the Opposition Leader in Port of Spain, where he read from documents which he said showed major infractions at these boards, with respect to procurement, tendering and acquisition of goods and services over the last month.
He outlined several issues concerning the EMBD, the CDA and the NLCB, but focused on issues at NLCB, where he claimed that contracts were being given to companies that were not registered with the Companies Register, where one company tendered both the highest and lowest bids to supply the same product and another where there was a verbal contract to supply scratch lottery to the NLCB.
"Now all of this information that was given to me tells me that something is terribly wrong at the NLCB. I seriously doubt that all of these letters of minutes for tender...., invoices etc are forgeries but the only way to find out is an audit."
Imbert said, in his capacity as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, he had been discussing the audit request with Hinds, who is the chairman of the Public Accounts Enterprises Committee.
"As the two chairmen of the two Public Accounts Committees, we have the authority to request the Auditor General, with a letter through the Parliament, to do a special audit of these entities and we intend to do so, because from what I am seeing here, this entire situation is getting completely out of hand, " Imbert said.
Imbert added that he would like to know why the NLCB was giving contracts to a company that was not registered as a company. And why almost every function the National Lotteries Board had this company providing "brand ambassadors" at the rate of $400 per person, for two hours.
On the award of the alleged verbal contract for scratch lottery, Imbert said a letter was written by a director of the NLCB to the company questioning how the company got the contract and whether it was in writing or not.
The response from the company stated there was no written or electronic contract but was done verbally after a presentation to the NLCB and G-Tech.
He also alleged that 1,668 units or 470 cases of the scratch lottery were printed, but only 440 cases were shipped.
"If the information in all these documents and all the reports of irregularities we are hearing are true then someone has to put a stop to all of this. There does appear to be a feeding frenzy. We are very serious about this," Imbert said.
He said they are also calling on the Government to do a forensic audit of the NLCB, of the CDA, the EMDB.
"We have already asked government for a forensic audit into the EFCL but we don't know if they will accede to our request because that was months ago," he said.