Outspoken Government Minister Donville Inniss says the Auditor General’s report should not be dismissed, warning that the country must get serious about confronting the issues raised.
In his recently published report for 2015, Auditor General Leigh Trotman painted a damning picture of the country’s public sector administration, citing millions in outstanding arrears, unauthorized transactions, misplaced funds and flawed contracts between the Government and private entities.
“The Auditor General report must be taken very seriously. It is not something that any Government, any Minister, any public officer or any taxpayer should take lightly,” Inniss said, while making a brief contribution on the Sunday edition of Down to Brass Tacks.
He was adamant that while ministers were often accused of being responsible for the discrepancies highlighted in the report, more attention must be paid to “ inherent deficiencies in the system” and public servants must be held to account.
Inniss, the Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, stressed that the issues highlighted should be handled in a non-partisan manner and proper systems implemented to ensure transparency and accountability.
“One must really understand that at the end of the day these are hardworking Barbadians who are paying their taxes and their money earned must be well spent and there must be check and balances and a higher level of accountability.”
In this regard, Inniss made a strong case for permanent secretaries to be held more responsible.
Pressed on whether the Public Accounts Committee had a greater role to play in addressing matters raised by the Auditor General, Inniss was not convinced that this was the best approach.
“The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) becomes just one of a witch hunt. Not one just where you are sitting down and analyzing these issues against the backdrop of finding deficiencies in the system.”
Inniss, who sits on the PAC, further argued that the body was not paying enough attention to how the system could be reformed.
“So today you go after national housing. You go after Water Authority, but at the end of the day, how can we reform the system to make it more accountable and transparent.
“We need to get very much more serious in this country. We talk a lot but we are not really genuinely interested in transformation and making some changes,” Inniss lamented.