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Director of Audit needs resources to do her job – Friday

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Leader of the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Dr Godwin Friday is calling on the Prime Minister to provide the resources needed by the director of Audit (DOA) to perform her duties.

According to Friday, Dahalia Sealey, the DOA, has cited inadequate resources as one of the reasons why audited public accounts have not been laid before Parliament.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, Friday said he met with Sealey and her deputy on June 30 and expressed his concern that the annual audited reports of the DOA and the Public Accounts were several years overdue.

He said the most recent reports which had been laid before Parliament were for 2009 and 2010.

“The director cited scarcity of resources, including lack of enough trained personnel to do the job constitutionally required of the director of Audit and the Audit Office. The director said that for years she has been asking for resources, mainly training for personnel to enable her to audit statutory bodies, which is part of her mandate,” Friday said.

The Opposition Leader added that the DOA acknowledged that as the Argyle International Airport project and the International Airport Development Cooperation received funds appropriated by Parliament, she has a responsibility to audit how the money was spent.

“She noted, however, that her office would have to hire technical experts from fields other than accounting and auditing to do a proper audit of the project and that her office lacked the resources to do so. Consequently, no audit of the project has been done by her office since the project started,” he stated.

Friday said he also expressed his dissatisfaction with the way the funds of PetroCaribe loan have been handled by the Government over the years, saying that no legal authority for the operation of the PetroCaribe fund existed until one was established by Parliament in 2016.

According to Friday, the DOA said because of insufficient resources, she was unable to say when an audit of the PetroCaribe Development Fund would be done.

He said other entities, such as National Properties Ltd, should also be audited by the DOA.

“If the director of Audit cannot yet complete the audit and report of the account of the Government for 2011 to 2016 or audit statutory bodies because it lacks the necessary resources, how can it fulfill its role? Starving the director of Audit of trained personnel and other resources undermines governmental accountability,” the Opposition Leader said.

Friday said the failure to remedy the problem even after years of pleas for resources by the DOA, leads them to only one conclusion.

“That is, the Government does not care about accountability. This leads inescapably to the question: are they hiding something and if so, what are they hiding,” he questioned.(CM)   

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