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MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock. (iWN file photo)
MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock. (iWN file photo)
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Opposition lawmaker St. Clair Leacock says that public servants should not process a special warrant to pay for the project for which the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has withdrawn financing, if the government does not bring a special warrant to Parliament.

St. Clair Leacock, who is member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, says to do so would be complicit with the Unity Labour Party administration, which has spent over EC$100 million in state resources since 2014 without Parliamentary approval.

“If an accountant general affixes his signature to a special warrant for that Yarabaqua project, against the background that they have not passed anything since 2014 and an attorney general sits down and allows that, they are complicit,” Leacock said Wednesday on his weekly appearance on “New Times”, his party’s weekday radio programme.

“And the Leader of the Opposition should write them and put them on notice that we will challenge and raise these matters at the level of the courts, and at the Parliament itself,” said Leacock, who is also one of two vice-presidents of the opposition New Democratic Party.

“We will exhaust all reasonable attempts to make sure that there are proper accountabilities and they comply with the law. We are still a country of laws, not of men.”

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In Parliament last week Thursday, Aug. 22, Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, said that his government has spent over EC$100 million without parliamentary approval.

He promised to bring the requisite legislation to parliament by the next sitting, noting that he had missed the March 2019 date to which he had earlier committed.

On Wednesday, Leacock questioned the decisions of senior public servants, such as the director of finance and planning, and the accountant general to sign off and authorise the spending of money “knowing that you are not in compliance with the finance act, the law and the accountabilities that the Parliament has”.

“Because the law is as such that it is the Director of Audit and the Public Accounts Committee, which is appointed after every budget must, in tandem, provide the oversight for the finances of the country to make sure things are going in accord,” he said.

He noted that on Nov. 3, 2011 that the Public Accounts Committee met to consider the 2008 report from the Director of Audit.

However, the meeting did not take place because Minister of Works Senator Julian Francis and then Health Minister and Senator, Douglas Slater said they were not sitting on a committee whose rules were drawn up by the James Mitchell administration and were not authorised by the Parliament.

“But, at least, Mitchell had a set of rules,” Leacock said of the prime minister whose NDP administration was voted out of office in March 2001 and replaced by the ULP.

“They are in office now for 19 years, have not corrected what they met from Mitchell, have not drawn up any for themselves and the Speaker is saying that he is talking over and over that there is need for us to look at the house rules and the provisions and do things, as if it is the opposition must drive the process of getting a proper accounts committee meek,” Leacock said.

The opposition lawmakers question why an 18-year-old administration that speaks about transparency, accountability and good governance does not have in place a Public Accounts Committee that will lend support to the Director of Audit “and yet feel they can come out there in the public and make display that it is the most accountable government in the world, when it is blocking all of the provisions of the Constitution to have accountability”.

Meanwhile, Daniel Cummings, Member of Parliament for West Kingstown, speaking on the same programme, said he wonders who will cover up, “when the time comes”, for public servants who feel that they can cover up corrupt action now

“I wonder who will cover up for them; something for them to think about,” Cummings said.

The Gonsalves government says it will finance the EC$1.4 million Yarabaqua River Defence Project for which the Caribbean Development Bank declared misprocurement and ordered the government to repay all money drawn down under the financing arrangement.

Leacock said: “And so now, with that, you still are going to say I am going to do another special warrant for the CDB project, for Yarbaqua.  You haven’t passed one special warrant since 2014 you know, but you are going to take you fingers and chuck them in the eyes of the NDP and say alyo take this. Alyo can’t do nothing about it.”

Cummings said the rules governing the spending of state resources are not accidental.

 “You can’t just take the constitution for granted; since 2014,” Leacock said, referring to the last year a supplementary appropriations bill was brought to Parliament.

He said that if he had not raised the issue, the government probably would not bring any supplementary appropriations bill for retroactive approval of the spending of millions of dollars.

9 replies on “Public servants complicit in flouting finance law — Leacock”

  1. This is one issue that I will back Cummings 100%. He should take employees who sign-off of financial issues that don’t have the backing of parliament to court. Don’t allow tax payers funds to help them with their legal fees. This money should come out of their pockets to be a lesson to public servants to follow the rules and laws or face financial ruin.

  2. Hon Leacock, complacency is the hallmark of civil servants in the Caribbean. This will continue until our system of Government and politics is transformed. The appointment and hiring of civil servants within our civilization has more to do with nepotism, trust and loyalty rather than accountability.

    Many say we are a Christian Nation. This might be true, but we are becoming a valueless nation where doing wrong and lying is becoming a sociable acceptable norm fueled by appeasement. What we are seeing today is a disintegration of the world order ahead of the Anti Christ. Dishonesty rules the world Hon Leacock. You and I might be among the few honest people remaining.

    When our Government and the opposition continues to support President Madura of Venezuela in light of the hundreds of cases of human rights abuse and corruption, and our people say nothing, it tells you what type of nation we have become.

    1. Well said again Augustus. I do not really know the truth about Venezuela. If they actually do kill people. The US Government is so very full of Fake News such as against Russia and Assad of Syria, (all proven to be fake news) that I have to doubt what is said about Venezuela as well. Since we live in SVG, we see all the vast corruption going on every day so that is undeniable. So many thieves and possibly murderers have gone free because of apparent party connections that it is shocking.
      Maybe it is all done on purpose so that corruption is just the norm and we lose interest so it is allowed to increase and flourish.

  3. With billions being stolen from state oil giant Petrobras by private construction firms and politicians, to a powerful senator negotiating for a key witness to flee from jail, Brazil has been rife with jaw-dropping corruption.

    Later, the Courts locked up the then president Lula da Silva and the Brazilian Senate impeached Dilma Rousseff his successor, Brazil’s first female president. Ms. Rousseff was convicted on charges of manipulating the federal budget.

    Operation Car Wash

    In “Operation Car Wash” the region saw what corrupt unchecked governments are capable of doing when parliament are side-lined and politicians and Civil Servants run fast and loose with the rules that governs them.

  4. The IMF in its booklet “Fiscal Monitor: Curbing Corruption” April 2019; is focused on two broad themes it says: fiscal policy in a fast-changing global economy and curbing corruption, however, it does not appear to be having much success in curbing corruption either in Europe, the Caribbean or elsewhere in the world by the looks of things. The Brazil Carwash Scandal tells its own story!

    The IMF tells us to “Think of a government budget as a complicated plumbing system” in which “corruption corrodes the pipes in the house”

    However we are also told that Breath-taking’: Corruption cost in the E.U equals its annual budget! This is what we were told not so long ago.

    That indeed [Corruption in the EU costs the economy 120 billion euro per year – equivalent to the EU’s annual budget, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said when presenting a new report, adding that “there are no corruption-free zones in Europe.”]

    What therefore, are we to assume about our own Government and our finances, in the light of such facts, when our own very secretive family run government, spends so much money without so much as a parliamentary oversight?

    Indeed further questions ought to be raised in Parliament on said matter and elsewhere and they are, why the opposition in parliament have been so silent over this vexed matter and for so long, and why in addition has the IMF not picked up on this lack of accountability either by our family run government?

  5. How much a year does the prime minister officially earn?

    Where has the dynasty wealth come from in the last 20 years?

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