Opposition MP St. Clair Leacock is urging that something be done about the seven-year backlog in the audited reports of public accounts in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The audits are intended, among other things, to ensure that the government manages the nation’s finances as the law prescribes and as Parliament approves.

Leacock said that the most recent audit report is for the year 2013.

Clearly, there are people in this Parliament, who know nothing of that 2013 period. If we follow that trend, it will be seven years from now we’ll know the outcomes of this current Appropriation Bill exercise,” Leacock said shortly after lawmakers approved an EC$1.26 billion budget for 2020.

The opposition lawmaker said it appears to be “common sense” that the government “ought to give some kind of instruction to the Audit Department to fast forward while catching up.

“So perhaps we’re at least two or three behind time, so that public account reports are within the life of the Parliament that is in progress. If we do not do that, our Parliament will be continually trying to do examinations of prior periods of which many present Parliamentarians would have no experience.”

Leacock suggested, for example, that auditors work on the 2017 accounts while trying to catch up on the period between 2013 and 2017.

“But it seems to me that the Audit Department has … be empowered and facilitated to bring the accountability to be within the life of the serving Parliament and not retroactively.”

MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock. (IWN file photo)

In response to the lawmaker’s comments, House Speaker Jomo Thomas said that based on the constitution the government cannot instruct the director of audit.

“You can implore…,” Thomas said.

Leacock responded:

“I don’t know what the mechanism is but I know there is something that’s called common sense and a will.”

I’m only talking law, sir,” Thomas responded.

“I’m through, Mr. Speaker. I’ve made my point,” Leacock said.  

In addressing the lawmaker’s concern, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that with the passage of the budget, the number of employees at the office of the Director of Audit has increased from 37 to 41.

The office will now have a second Deputy Director of Audit and a financial audit unit.

“It is a matter of concern to me that there is such tardiness in the production of the reports of the Office of the Director of Audit,” the prime minister said.

Also, for yet another time, Leacock expressed concern about the functioning of the Public Accounts Committee, whose members were also appointed last week, as, is done after each budget.

The committee, which reviews the Director of Audit reports, has not met for the year and at the last attempt to convene a meeting, the government members stonewalled the proceeding saying that Parliament has never approved the rules.

Leacock said:

“… we must go beyond the formality and the ceremonial appointment of this Public Accounts Committee.”

He said that members of the PAC should consider setting up a subcommittee within the next three months to finalise the rules under which this committee would function “so that it does, in fact, function and report properly to the Director of Audit”.

Regarding this, Gonsalves suggested that the PAC function “as per the functioning of any select committee”.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

He, however, added that the government will seek, within the first half of the year, to have drafted a particular bill for the Public Accounts Committee “and to make whatever regulations there are under the act which is passed rather than doing it the other way around…

“But I wouldn’t expect that on a bill of that nature, the draftspersons will deliver it maybe within a six month period. … but there’s nothing to stop the Public Accounts Committee from meeting, even on the 2013 accounts, because there are general issues of policy which could arise. But of course, the leader of the opposition has to summon [a meeting of the PAC],” the prime minister said.

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5 Comments

  1. Brisbane Economics says:

    Leacock is right. The finance and economics of the ULP Government is a total disaster. Not only do they have their priorities all wrong, they cannot even manage that;…
    And they want to continue their mismanagement with NO OVERSIGHT!

    Too bad the average Vincentian is too doltish to see and realize how damaging this is to our country of great potential. People blame other factors for our vast unemployment. This great potential is wasted under the totally bad management of the present government. Most all the governments here in the Caribbean are terrible, stupid and often corrupt because of the greed and lust for continued power of those at the top.

    Everyone sees that Ralph Gonsalves is “challenged” in economics and finance and his son seems to be even worse. We all just have to do the best we can and hope that the reign of poverty ends soon and that whatever comes next will lower the costs to attract investors (therefore bring jobs) and also has more sense in other areas, such as fixing the roads.

    Reply

  2. Ever wondered why the Gonsalves family regime can never get SVG to prosper, and why the regime’s economics and spending figures are always kept in a fog, then listen to “Piercing the fog of ignorance”- a Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley-Why Socialism Failed (from Mises to Hayek, Lenin to Maduro) the case of always Chaos and poverty.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dy1frpilnPQ The Mises institute https://mises.org/

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  3. Jomo you have no place in parliament; there should be an interim speaker of the house while you finish your pappy show. if your colleges would’ve applied the LAW you’d been charged and removed. You seem to assume respectability just because you say you gave the ULP notice and going to quit the speakership. Do you think people are just stick figures. Here, You ‘stonewall’ the man pompously, with prejudice, like the stick in his spokes, exactly as BBG want. In a proper democracy it is not the lawyers who’re seeking fame, fortune or notoriety and owe tons of taxes who set the rules. BBG own you and your car. Douche, in a proper democracy the rule of law is supreme, not crooked and self serving whims. We would like to read your dissertation.

    Reply

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