Despite the deafening rattles that accompanied the government’s recently published review of town and village council operations during the time of the last administration, there was only silence from the United Workers Party camp. That is, until now.
After carefully poring over the document, says Allen Chastanet in a release on Friday, his party was “appalled that the government and its agents continue to mislead the public by referring to the report as a ‘forensic audit,’ which can be carried out by a “forensic accountant with very specific qualifications and follows particular procedures and methodologies.”
None of the individuals named as authors of the report, the release noted, “is a qualified forensic accountant.” Moreover, “the language of the report and the methods used are not in keeping with the approach of a forensic audit and as such the report and process are fundamentally flawed.”
In his statement Chastanet points out that it was not the King administration that had made the decision not to deposit Taiwan donated financial assistance in the Consolidated Fund. It was a requirement of the government of Taiwan.
He added: “It must be remembered that the wishes of the donor, in terms of accountability, were complied with. If they had not been, the donor would’ve stopped or suspended the disbursement of funds to individual projects.” In only one documented instance did that happen, observed the former tourism minister.
A third point in the press statement zeroed in on the office of the Director of Audit, the agency responsible for the conduct of audits of government institutions. The release notes that the director had lamented the fact that her office was not involved in this audit. ‘Unlike the Castries City Council, where the Director of Audit has the explicit mandate to audit the financial statements it is not so for the Town and Village Councils. For the last four years the councils were included as programs under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Renewal. The
Town and Village Councils were not required to present us with financial statements for audit.’
The statement quotes the director of Audit at page 61 of the review.
Besides: “The UWP is committed to the principle of holding persons to account. The party has a proud record of the management of public funds while in office. The UWP does not condone any wrongdoing. If persons are proven to have broken the law or violated established procedures, regardless of political affiliation, they should be dealt with appropriately.”
By the former senator’s account, his party has assembled a team of professionals with the requisite qualifications to study the report in detail and to make appropriate recommendations!