Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bring on thoseTHA audits now

The January 21 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election campaign was one of the weirdest on record. In case you didn't notice, it was the first time a Government ran up against an opponent without having the right ammunition to fight. We know knowledge is power and an election campaign is war. Once all the facts about the opponent's past behaviour are at hand, a case could be built against whether any shady doings had occurred. The Orville London-led Assembly never gave the Government such a chance.

The THA is supposed to submit its annual financial report every year to the Auditor General. The requirement is no different to any ministry. When he's finished checking, the Auditor General is then supposed to submit his audited report to Parliament. That way, the entire public would know exactly what the THA did with the money it received from the Treasury. Can anyone disclose when last London organised those documents and sent them to the Auditor General? I believe the last time was in 2005; we're in 2013—that's eight years ago. Totally unacceptable!

Worse still, the 2005 report was only submitted by the Auditor General in 2012. What was the Auditor General doing about these serious lapses by the THA before then? Where is the Auditor General's sense of urgency to be vigilant and diligent about what goes on in the THA? Is there a problem with staffing? Is there a problem with morale? Or is there some mischief taking place to shore up an administration that would be removed the instant its inner workings are thrown open to public scrutiny? Whatever the right answer, things cannot be allowed to continue as is.

Our Constitution identifies another general (the Attorney General). He is the legal adviser to the Government and guardian of the public interest as well. The Attorney General must take up the matter as urgently as possible. We cannot rely on the new THA or Auditor General any longer in this vital matter, not with the amount of money the THA gets, not after considering the history of the London-and PNM-controlled Tobago House of Assembly.

Erica Campbell-Moe

Diego Martin