Posted on

PM not requesting audit for monies allocated to Opposition Leader’s office

PM not requesting audit for monies allocated to Opposition Leader’s office

Share

Although he is Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves would not request an audit to determine whether money allocated to the office of the Leader of the Opposition was misappropriated.{{more}}

“I don’t want it to appear that in requesting an audit to be done that there is some political witch-hunt in this matter,” he told Parliament Thursday.

“I am not getting involved in that regard,” the prime minister said.

Gonsalves was responding to a question by senator David Browne, who asked for a breakdown of monies paid to meet the expenses of the Opposition in 2011.

He said that for each month of the year a request was made for $6,939 to pay salaries, including that of the research officer.

The prime minister, however, said Addison “Bash” Thomas was appointed as the research officer and was expected to take up his duties on October 15, 2011.

He said, Roland “Patel” Matthews was paid as the research officer prior to the 2010 general elections, when he was elected to Parliament.

“Whether the money was utilised as authorized by Parliament, it is self -evident there was no one to pay as research officer for the first nine and a half months … where the money was utilised within the ambit of this I do not know; I can only answer the facts as they are presented to me,” Gonsalves said.

He said an audit could be requested from the Clerk of the House, the Director General of Finance and Planning, the office of the Leader of the Opposition or the Director of Audit could do an audit on her own calling.

“That is a matter for the Director of Audit. I would not want to presume that there is anything sinister,” the prime minister said.

He explained that in the estimates of 2001, there was an allocation for the office of the Leader of the Opposition of $153,000 and a directive given that the money be disbursed quarterly with absolutely no reference to the minister of finance.

The Leader of the Opposition would then make a request through the office of the Clerk of the House who would then forward the request to the Director General of Finance and Planning, who would then authorize the release through the Accountant General, Gonsalves said.

In the first quarter of 2011, a request for $30,600 was made, $36,000 in the second, $36,000 in the third and $48,000 in the fourth quarter, he said.

Of the figures given to him, Gonsalves said, the items listed as expenditure were employers’ NIS payments, utilities, communication expenses, rental of assets and supplies and maintenance.

The electricity bill for the year was listed as $9,000 and $12,000 was spent on telecommunications. (DD)

LAST NEWS