Credit card charges for supermarket shopping, a $900 restaurant bill, a television and more than $1,000 in duty-free purchases by yet another leader of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) are being challenged as unauthorized transactions, Barbados TODAY has learned.
And the decision-making body in the NUPW, concerned at a two-year pattern of high credit card spending, has called for scrutiny of the union leaders’ charge card bills.
Just one month after President Akanni McDowall was called to account for alleged unauthorized use of the union’s credit card, General Secretary Roslyn Smith is to be quizzed by the union’s national council later this week for a credit card bill of $13,262.57, a source close to the development told Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity.
But Smith, backed by General Treasurer Asokore Beckles, has rubbished these accusations of unauthorized purchases in the last ten months.
But the source said that McDowall, who is chairman of the National Council, has been instructed to summon Smith in writing to a meeting on Wednesday. McDowall would neither confirm nor deny this account when contacted today.
In documents seen by Barbados TODAY, Smith charged $4000 at Popular Discounts and Massy Stores supermarkets from September 2017 to March 2018.
Other charges included a $937 bill at Brown Sugar restaurant, $773 for a television at Courts and $1,196.28 in purchases at Duty Free Caribbean.
Smith told Barbados TODAY that the charges were nothing short of a malicious attempt to besmirch her name because purchases were made with the expressed authorization of the union.
“All those things were discussed before. The supermarket purchases were for the hurricane relief effort in Dominica. I couldn’t use the card unless I have permission because I return the card to the union after every purchase. So I am not too bothered by what anyone says. When you have persons that have done things that they should not do they try to implicate people that are above board,” the NUPW general secretary said.
Her position was fully supported by the treasurer, Beckles, who denied Smith was being investigated.
“I am the general treasurer of the organization and I can say to you emphatically that the general secretary is under no investigation or under any disciplinary action under any circumstances when it comes to financial matters. Any financial spending has to be approved by myself or by the president and one of the first-vice presidents. So even if the general secretary had to make a transaction it would come to light when it came time to paying,” said Beckles, who added he personally combed through the union’s spending each week.
“There were various ways in which we had to go about purchasing stuff for Dominica disaster relief. These matters were urgent to get relief to our brothers and sisters out there. So, given the speedy nature we had instructed the general secretary to go and purchase these items as well as find ways to get them to Dominica,” he added.
The National Council, the union’s highest decision-making body, met on July 30 and August 2 and moved that “all documents in respect of the credit card should be brought to Council including the General Secretary’s use”.
According to a report of the meeting, a copy of which Barbados TODAY has obtained, the National Council expressed concern over the pattern of spending on the union’s credit cards in the last 24 months.
The committee recommended that all credit cards be destroyed and that a sole credit card be issued for NUPW use, limited to overseas charges and for emergencies. (CM)