The former chairman of the Transport Board has disputed some of the financial reports contained in the last Auditor General’s Report.
Anthony Wiltshire, who chaired the state-owned enterprise from 2013 to 2018, testified before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday that the board had different figures to those contained in the report.
In fact, Wiltshire said the Transport Board’s Financial Controller Felicia Sue was largely responsible for those inaccurate numbers, which he described as “inflated”.
He said in her appearance before the PAC, Sue told the Committee that former consultant at the Transport Board, Trinidadian David Bartholomew was paid $22 000 monthly when in fact he was only paid $13 000 monthly.
“I want to say this afternoon that this document here, with all due respect to the Auditor General, does not really reflect the accuracy of what went on in my time,” he said.
“…I must say that I am not bashing the Auditor General, I have great respect for him, but he can only put in information which was given to him, but this is not what I know.”
Auditor General Leigh Trotman was absent from yesterday’s sitting.
Wiltshire told the PAC, chaired by Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley, that he was now for the first time learning that the Transport Board had purchased transmissions for $25, 000.
When questioned by PAC member Sandra Husbands as to why the Transport Board moved from purchasing 45 reconditioned transmissions for around $5500 in 2014, to purchasing 123 transmissions locally for around $23, 000 from 2015 to 2018, Wiltshire said he was unaware the Transport Board had spent such large sums on transmissions.
Husbands contended that if the reconditioned transmissions had been preferred the cash-strapped Transport Board would have saved over $2 million.
“Let me make it clear to the committee: this is the first time I am hearing about 123 transmissions being purchased locally because the analysis which we were given did not include that,” Wiltshire explained.
“In other words we were sitting in the board [meetings] and we would hear that we had to get transmissions and the cost was x, y, z. We didn’t have a comprehensive analysis that we had to buy in the month of January, February, like that. So where I am seeing a hundred and something transmissions is mindboggling, so I don’t know if that information was deliberately withheld…”
Wiltshire blamed Sue for what he described as “sabotaging” the operations of the state-owned enterprise.
Sue has been on suspension for several months, stemming from internal investigations as part of a special probe by the Board.
Wiltshire maintained that disciplinary action would have likely been taken against Sue if the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) had won the 2018 general election.
“Let me put it this way. It was during 2017 that we started to get a good look at it because that is when these discrepancies started to come up.
“As you know we only had one year or a couple months, so quite frankly, if the party had won I know that action would have been taken because you know when you send someone on suspension then the union gets involved and it is long, drawn out but we had work to do so no action was taken,” Wiltshire said. ([email protected])