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Fri 24th Jul 2015

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Lack of parliamentary oversight means Gonsalves is bankrupting our country

The Director of Audit has been sending very strong warnings to citizens of SVG, that there is a significant break down in governance in our country. There is no parliamentary oversight on public expenditure, as mandated by section 75 (2) of the SVG 1979 Constitution.

According to the Director of Audit, the apparent non-functioning of the Public Accounts Committee could weaken Parliamentary control and is a source of frustration of the audit function, as Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments are not called to account for their stewardship.

Vincentians and others should take note that the Director of Audit has failed the SVG Minister of Finance, Gonsalves, on the audit of public accounts for 2008, 2009 and 2010. Yet, Gonsalves, who is not a university graduate in finance, has not removed himself as the SVG Minister of Finance.

Table 1 shows a comparison of the closing balances on the National Commercial Bank (NCB) current account and the approved overdraft limit, according to the Director of Audit. It illustrates that Gonsalves was recklessly overspending in the three years shown.

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Table 2 shows that the gap between the balance in the Treasury accounts and the balance in the account of the NCB was widening, according to the Director of Audit. The table illustrates that for the years shown, over $200 million went missing.

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In 2008, Gonsalves killed the liquidity of the NCB with a massive bank overdraft of $185,142,677.08.
There is no oversight by the OECS Central Bank in St. Kitts Nevis and so our people are suffering and the economy is seriously weakened.

His Excellency, the Governor General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, signed the Freedom of Information Act in December 2003, so that the people of SVG can have an insight in to the workings of public accounts. To date, Gonsalves has not gazetted the Freedom of Information Act to become law to allow members of the public to ask questions about the public accounts. Should Gonsalves have the right to operate above the head of His Excellency, the Governor General?

The massive failure in the parliamentary oversight and in our system of governance has allowed Gonsalves – who is quite clearly reckless with SVG’s finances – to continue for so long.

The reckless spending continues to this day. The cost for the construction of the misfit Argyle airport, as listed on page 17 of the Environmental Impact Assessment, was meant to be $502 million. However, over $800 million has been wasted on Argyle airport. The lack of parliamentary oversight has resulted in this reckless spending virtually bankrupting our country. The needs of Vincentians have been neglected.

Work on the Argyle airport is barely half completed. The people of SVG are at the mercy of Gonsalves’ incompetence and the lack of parliamentary oversight of public expenditure. SVG Green Party is calling for the urgent suspension of all work on the Argyle Airport.

Gonsalves is knowingly spending money without parliamentary oversight and while parliament is in non-compliance of section 75 (2) of the SVG 1979 Constitution, according to the Director of Audit.

Parliamentary oversight of government is a critical component of effective governance in our country. SVG urgently needs parliamentary oversight and an effective Public Accounts Committee to strengthen the accountability role of parliament and to curtail the reckless spending of our country’s finances.

The model of government in SVG has collapsed. The country’s mash up under Gonsalves’ reckless spending of our country’s finances.

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