GTU’s books not audited since 1989 – AG

first_img…“We have nothing to hide” – Union’s PresidentAs the countrywide teachers’ strike over wage increases enters its fourth straight day, attention is simultaneously being placed on the financial status of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), after a request was made for Auditor General Deodat Sharma to conduct an audit of the union’s finances.Auditor General Deodat SharmaThis request was made after the union announced that it cannot pay full strike relief to all teachers.While the probe has not started, Auditor General Sharma told Guyana Times on Wednesday that, based on the information obtained so far, the GTU’s books have not been audited in almost 30 years. He pointed out that his office had written the GTU in the past to submit its records.“The last audit was since 1989. We had written them to submit their records. I don’t think they’ve got it for those years, but I have to double-check my records. Normally, based of financial statement audits, unless we get the financial statement, we don’t really go in, unless there is some inquiry or accusation,” Sharma observed.GTU President Mark Lyte speaking after the breakdown on talks in salary increasesSharma cautioned that the audit would move forward once the records are present. On those grounds, he pointed out that at this point he could not say how long a probe would last.“I don’t know. First of all, it’s due to the availability of the records. Once we get the records, within two to three weeks we should be able to have something,” the official surmised.GTU not afraidMeanwhile, at least two executives of the GTU, while responding to disclosure of the possible probe, questioned the timing of the request and pondered if the letter has truly come from a concerned teacher. GTU President Mark Lyte told this newspaper that the union is focused on advancing improved wages.“It (the letter) says it’s coming from a teacher, but I believe it’s coming from a certain office that everyone knows where,” Lyte said.He told this newspaper the GTU’s books were audited, and maintained that the union has no issue with being re-audited.“Why does the media have to be tracking us down for this? The issue at hand is teachers’ livable wages and salary, and that is the focus right now. If the books have to be audited, the people who have to audit, come and audit; we don’t have anything to hide,” Lyte disclosed.Even as the possibility of an audit probe looms, the union President stressed that the teachers’ 50 percent strike relief would not be affected.“It affects nothing; we’ve already said to the teachers that strike relief would be provided,” he asserted.No distractionLyte’s fellow executive, GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonald, declared that the union has been a transparent one, having suggested that there continues to be regular internal audits.“We have no difficulty with [an audit]. Our books are always opened. Our teachers at any time can come and peruse our books. At every General Council meeting, we have a report from the treasurer, with audited statements coming from our auditors,” McDonald declared.“If you check history, every time a union decides to call industrial action, whichever Government in power always wants to threaten you that your books are not audited; so we will not be distracted by them,” she added.Guyana Times, in trying to ascertain when the last audit was done, the executive stressed that the GTU auditing is ongoing.“Auditing is a process, so our process is ongoing. In 2016, we had our elections, and we had audited statements that were issued.Our focus is to move this matter to arbitration, end this fiasco and ensure that our nation’s children are being taking care of before we fight to see if our books are up to date,” she noted.In the August 23, 2018 letter, the “concerned” teacher requested that an audit be conducted in the management of funds paid to the Guyana Teachers Union. It related union President Mark Lyte initially saying that the union could not provide relief benefits as the union had other financial commitments, such as bursaries, death benefits, and buildings to maintain.Teachers had been concerned that there would be cuts to their salaries, and were not sure if the union would provide strike relief; but the GTU General Council held a meeting on Tuesday and decided to offer partial strike relief to teachers amounting to 50 percent of their salaries. However, Lyte also cautioned that the relief fund could cover teachers for up to one month. Teachers are seeking increases of some 40%. (Shemuel Fanfair)last_img read more