The latest report from the Accountant General’s, and the first I believe by the new Accountant General, is quite frankly, not good. I am not an expert on auditing terms and processes, but I understand that the giving of a ‘qualified audit’ is not a good result at all. I do not believe the full report is available yet, but I am looking forward to reading it when it is.
While it is correct that the economic recession/depression is a factor, at least in the drop in revenues, this is only a small factor when compared to the cost overruns and apparent misspending of public monies. Whether it is true that public monies have been misspent, what is clear is that the Government has so far failed to both fully address the needs of the Accountant General sufficiently to avoid a qualified report, and the public perceptions, rightly or wrongly, that the government has failed to handle public finances appropriately.
The PLP, as the government, must take a hard look at its handling of the public finances and ensure that there is no repeat ‘qualified audits’. While it has the luxury of having no credible challengers in the political field, the Party should not risk disappointing the public too much – and should take a more pro-active approach in preventing even the perception of wrongdoing.
From that point, the headlines about the PLP ‘no show’ for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) certainly aren’t good, at least at first glance. However, reading the report in more detail, it seems that the UBP is playing petty political games with the PAC. At most the rules governing committees such as the PAC need reformed. From my perspective, committees like this should require a certain number of members to attend, a minimum quorum, in order to proceed. And if such a quorum is unable to meet, then the meeting should be rescheduled. I find it hard to believe that a sufficient quorum could consist of just the UBP members, as Mr. Cole Simmons seems to suggest.
I do question however how the two PLP MPs somehow failed to adequately schedule their availability, and this is something that should also be addressed. Which goes back to the question of how to hold MPs and Senators accountable in the sense of attendance for the House, the Senate and committees.
I am increasingly tired of the PLP resorting to the pathetic excuse that the UBP has no right to question them on account of the UBP’s mis-government pre-1998. The PLP was elected to not repeat the mis-governance of UBP. While the PLP has undoubtedly improved on the UBP’s performance, there are still too many instances of UBPesque actions, of which the farcical situation of the Bermuda Cement Company is just one (perceptions of crony capitalism is another). I don’t care about how the BCC under the UBP was allegedly run ‘like Northern Rhodesia’ or any rot like that. If the previous management of the BCC was forced out because it failed to comply with Government/Wedco, then the failure of the current management to also comply with those requests, then it should be held accountable.