The accounts of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have not been audited for any of the four-plus years of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration’s current term in office.
And, according to Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock, if things continue as they are, it would be another seven years before Vincentians know how the government spent the EC$70 million approved for response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leacock, an opposition lawmakers, speaking on the New Democratic Party’s virtual campaign rally last Thursday noted that auditors general under the ULP government have raised concerns about their inability to verify government spending.
He noted that the auditing of the books are years behind and, in instances, when they have been audited, the auditors general have said that they could not verify that funds were spent as intended.
“I have walked you through some figures and performances and audits in St. Vincent and the Grenadines but that’s not the story you know. That’s not the story that Major has come here to talk to and share with you tonight,” Leacock said after mentioning specific sections of various audit reports.
“I told you Snagg left and Sealey left and they left the Minister of Finance to his own machinations, the same people who are asking for a fifth term in office,” he said, referring to previous auditors general who have since left their post.
“But you know what’s the sad story? The sad story — and I want the media to take this up — is that this government came into office in 2015. This is 2020. They will leave government without one single year of their last five years in office being audited,” Leacock said.
“In other words, this country has no clue of the veracity, the accuracy, the truthfulness of where we are in St. Vincent and the Grenadines because this government has not been audited; lack of accountability.
“That’s why they can carry on so and that’s the point I want to drive home. We are in 2020, in a COVID year — I don’t know if you all really understand how badly we are, how badly it is.
“If they leave and when they leave office now, we will not know what happened in 2020 ‘til the year 2027. In other words, a new government will come into place and serve for five years and we still will not have heard what happened with COVID money.”
Leacock said the situation is evidence of the seriousness of the lack of accountability that the opposition has been complaining about.
He said that people should not respond by saying that the situation also occurred under the NDP administration — which was voted out of office in March 2001 after 17 years.
He suggested a resolution to the current situation, saying:
“If you are serious about governance and accountability, you would say, ‘We’re behind but you know what? Director, I want to come up to date, so we just win and election now in 2015, leh we bring the thing forward.’
“So one team a people dealing with the current state of affairs and another group of people dealing with they bad log so we have some semblance of what’s happening in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because the records are showing us where we should go,” Leacock siad.