• The so-called Compliance Report is all except a professional Compliance Report as per my interpretation »

The posture adopted by the General Manager of the Central Water Authority (CWA), Prakash Maunthrooa, towards the Compliance Report prepared by the Internal Audit Division under the leadership of former Chief Auditor Yousra Lalmohamed, was hostile from the outset. Internal documents reveal that he expressed initial disapproval of both the content and philosophy of the report, which highlighted several lapses related to the pipe replacement project.

Documents reviewed by Le Défi Quotidien reveal that the “Compliance Report” was initially scheduled to be discussed with the CWA General Manager (GM) at a meeting of the Audit Risk Committee (ARC) on January 12, 2024. However, this had to be postponed due to Prakash Maunthrooa’s obligation to attend another meeting regarding Cyclone Belal. It was only later that the GM was able to review the report and made the following remarks: “It is not clear who decided that this paper should be included in the Agenda of the ARC. The Compliance Report is more of a management issue rather than a matter for the ARC to consider.”

The CWA GM also allegedly had several meetings with Yousra Lalmohamed, during which he explained to her his understanding of a “Compliance Report”. In the rest of the document, we can see Prakash Maunthrooa’s scathing comments about this “Compliance Report”: “The so-called Compliance Report is all except a professional Compliance Report as per my interpretation.” According to him, the former Chief Internal Auditor of the CWA simply failed to distinguish between a “Compliance Report” and a full internal financial audit.

Yousra Lalmohamed was also criticised for failing to understand that conditions imposed by the Department of Energy and Public Utilities cannot be applied retrospectively. Speaking specifically on the report’s adverse comments regarding CWA’s failure to open a second account with ABSA Bank for payments related to the pipe replacement programme, Prakash Maunthrooa said that if the former CWA Chief Internal Auditor had done her job properly and professionally, she should have taken cognisance of the problems the CFO was facing in opening a bank account with ABSA. Prakash Maunthrooa questioned why the former Chief Internal Auditor had intentionally failed to highlight this aspect.

He is also accused of not having the CWA's interests at heart, because according to him, “If she had any interest in CWA, she should have realized that CWA needs a minimum of about 3 months to comply with conditions acceptable to the CWA and in agreed formats.”

Prakash Maunthrooa losing momentum?

The decision by Energy and Utilities Minister Joe Lesjongard to establish a committee of inquiry to look into the deficiencies identified in the compliance report is a clear setback for Prakash Maunthrooa, once considered a pillar of the Sun Trust and close to the Jugnauth family. Within the Sun Trust, it is noted that since his appointment to the CWA, Prakash Maunthrooa’s influence has declined, particularly after being partially removed from the Prime Minister’s Office, where he held senior positions during the terms of Sir Anerood Jugnauth and the early years of Pravind Jugnauth.

The decision to remove him from the circles of power, however, had other repercussions, particularly on Minister Joe Lesjongard. Several sources agree that Prakash Maunthrooa was imposed on him and that the two men failed to agree on several issues, including that of water desalination, which Joe Lesjongard saw as a solution to improve water distribution in Mauritius. Within the ministry concerned, there are strong suspicions that Prakash Maunthrooa's administration deliberately obstructed the implementation of this project.

Those who are close to Prakash Maunthrooa and argue that he retains a strong influence at Government House, point to the fact that several members of the government, including some ministers, generally fear him. Moreover, they claim that despite the criticism he receives, his political strategies and campaigns are still considered to be extremely effective in the political arena. Others point out that Prakash Maunthrooa retains the title of advisor in the Prime Minister's Office.

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