Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield has failed to submit financial reports for the billions spent for elections held in 2015 and 2020.
This is according to Guyana Elections Commissioner Sase Gunraj who expressed that a shroud of secrecy hangs over GECOM and its spending during the 2015 and 2020 elections.
When asked about the finances of the agency in an exclusive interview with this publication, Gunraj said “I have no clue what it cost for the electoral process. We don’t get reports on that. For the 2015 elections, there has been no report from the CEO to the Commission. None. The 2020 election, a declaration was made 101 days ago. And there has been no report from the Secretariat to the Commission in relation to that election either.”
“We have not received reports to say, look, from jump street, this is what occurred. And here, this is where we are. We spent so much money along the way. We had these difficulties. I believe that from any event of such a national nature, there ought to be some sort of report,” Gunraj said.
Notwithstanding the fact that the reports are required by statute, Gunraj noted that the submission of these reports giving account for how billions were spent should be a standard practice anyway.
“Proper management techniques would dictate that you have to provide what were the outcomes, what you hope to do differently. I don’t believe that the law has to dictate that, although as far as I can recall it’s mandated by statute. Whether one will be forthcoming will be anybody’s guess.”
There are reports delving into the financial management of the 2015 elections. But they did not come from the Secretariat. Instead, those reports are special ones conducted by the Audit Office of Guyana, which unearthed a nest of controversies, including procurement breaches and inflated prices.
But according to Gunraj, these and other matters were consistently pushed on the back burner by GECOM prior to the December 2018 No-Confidence Motion. And after that, GECOM’s focus was fixed on delivering the 2020 General and Regional Elections.
“The system itself did not allow those things to be dealt with,” he said.
“And of course, there were aspects that were deliberately (impeded)… we couldn’t even get to discuss the Auditor General report. Because in any proper functioning organisation, when allegations of such a dastardly nature are made and proven, people get sent home.”