Leader of the opposition, Godwin Friday, says he would like to see an audit of Lives to Live, a programme under which the government builds home and indoor toilet facilities for indigent Vincentians.
He said would like to see a similar examination of Argyle International Airport and PetroCaribe, but noted that the government has, this year, reduced its allocation to the Audit Office.
Friday, in debating the 2021 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure in Parliament on Tuesday, noted that the government had shaved its allocation to the Audit Office.
“In 2019, it was allocated $22,100,” Friday said, noting that this was not a lot of money.
“But only $4,067 was actually spent on training,” Friday said, adding, “They want to do other things; they want to do compliance audits.”
Friday said that the audit of the School Feeding Program was “very helpful”.
He noted that the Audit Office says its mission is “to create a national impact by informing citizens of how government is managing its resources”.
“That is an important function of accountability,” Friday commented.
“And it’s a shame that your department has to suffer, when it should be adding to its resources, that even with the meagre amounts it gets, still finds that it doesn’t deliver.
“So having done that audit of the School Feeding Programme, there are others they can do. I would like to see them audit, for example, the Lives to Live program. What about the PetroCaribe programme? We need to know what happened with that programme. We still have a debt that we have to service; over $100 million,’ Friday said.
“The Argyle International Airport, we’ve never seen an audit of that. The minister in his estimates, last year, and this year, he said he would prepare a debt sustainability analysis that was set out in his objectives. And that would be useful, given the context that I’ve set here.”
He, however, said that the Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves had said in the 2020 Estimates that he would prepare this analysis.
“… but no progress was made; it was put off. That was the 2019 year. It was put off to 2020 — last year. They said in this year’s estimates, now at page 147, it is deferred again to 2021. So no work is being done on the debt sustainability analysis that the minister said they would do. And I believe that this year is not going to be done either because of the difficulty of dealing with this vexing problem that has been getting worse and worse every year,” the opposition leader said.