Government tonight used its parliamentary majority to pass a resolution guaranteeing a $73 million loan to the Barbados Agricultural Management Company, despite objections by the Opposition.
During the debate, Member of Parliament for St James North Edmund Hinkson demanded to see the company’s accounts, saying it was improper for Government to ask members of the House to vote on the money resolution without showing them the company’s most recent financial information.
“It is totally impractical to bring a resolution to Parliament for money, and in this case millions of dollars, without providing up-to-date financial statements and annual reports on the corporation for which the money is being voted for,” Hinkson argued.
“How can you bring a resolution to vote $73 million for a corporation, and the latest annual report and statement of accounts before the Parliament that is being asked to vote on a resolution, is for the year ended 30th of June, 2009?” he asked.
“We are seven years behind time. We can’t vote properly on this resolution, and we have not had statements of accounts before this Parliament for the records for members to look at.”
Hinkson, an attorney, pointed to requirements under the Sugar Bond Guarantees Act, Chapter 255, that BAMC’s accounts be audited “at least once in every financial year by an auditor appointed by the company, approved by the Ministry of Finance”.
The Act further specifies that “within six months after the close of each financial year, or such longer period as the Minister permits, the company shall submit to the Minister a report on the operation of funds, and a statement of the audited accounts of the funds, certified by the auditor”.
Additionally, Hinkson said the Act states
that: “The Minister shall table copies of this report and certified copies of accounts in Parliament as soon as practicable, after receipt thereof.”
He therefore called on Government to be transparent and accountable in all its dealings.
“It should be forthright with it people, both by public statements and its dealings in Parliament,” he stressed.