KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said on Monday that he will convene a meeting of the inactive Public Accounts Committee to discuss the outcome of probes into two government departments last year.
He said the meeting will discuss the “Kentucky Report” — a 10-point course of action the Director of Audit demanded be implemented at the Ministry of Health and the Environment after an audit in 2010 found that the Ministry was plagued by misappropriation of funds, wastage, and lack of internal control.
The Permanent Secretary was to implement a system for the proper supervision and monitoring of all items imported under the Ministry’s concession, account for items purchased locally but were not produced for inspection, and recover the monies spent on fast food.
The CIHP bought fast food under conditions not approved by the Ministry, including
$370 spent on KFC during November and December 2009. An audit of the department said that a further $610 spent on KFC over a three-day in August 2009 was “exorbitant”.
Eustace also said that the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee will seek information of the outcome of a probe at the Ministry of Agriculture, where a company belonging to the Permanent Secretary – a son of the Speaker of the House of Assembly – was accused of importing and selling to the ministry exorbitantly priced items.
“I want information on what has happened with those matters in relations to the Ministry of Agriculture and I will be calling a meeting to deal with those,” Eustace said but did not say when the meeting would take place.
Eustace, in his capacity as Opposition Leader, is chairman of the Committee but said he has not had a pleasant experience in that capacity and the accounts of the government are not up to date.
The former finance minister told journalists that the Committee is an “important institution” but said since the government has majority membership opposition proposals are often outvoted.
“My experience has not been a pleasant one in terms of what it can actually accomplish in the sense that although I am chairman, when you have to vote on any decision, you are out voted. The other problem I have is that for years the Public Accounts Committee, which is suppose to look at the accounts of the government, is many years in arrears,” Eustace said, noting that he had only recently received the document for 2008.
“But, I intend to call a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee to discuss that same report and some others,” he said.