News Release – Statement by the Premier
I thank my friend His Excellency the Governor for his advice and I would be ill advised not to take sage advice. However in this instance there are two sides to this matter.
As a Legislator I pushed for more good governance vehicles than any other legislator. I fought to have the Auditor General position in the Constitution in the 1990’s, I fought for the Register of Interest, and I fought for the Complaints Commissioner and supported many of the present vehicles for good governance.
On entering Government in May 2009, it was the worst situation that I have ever seen which should have been known by those responsible for good governance in that administration during that time.
I found that the procurement process, as I was warned by senior civil servants and members of the public, had deteriorated over the previous four years. I immediately called for a reworking of the PMFL and particularly the procurement service. I also asked for one or two senior finance professionals to work and advise in the Ministry of Finance. I begged for a review of the procurement service long before the Governor or anyone else at the time because of what I saw happening to Government expenditure.
I went to Jersey and Bermuda to examine their system. I had a meeting with the present Auditor General to tell him how I felt. I also took an information file to Minister Bellingham to show him why I was complaining about the Central Tenders process.
The elected government found that bids for procuring services for government that should have been $3 million were going for $6 million. We had to step in and cut them back to $3 million and it was accepted. With the CCTV we had to step in because it was going to a chosen friend for $3mil. It took six weeks, but we got it cut back by $1mil. I and the Government have been chastised by the audit office for interfering.
The Auditor General says that in regard to financial matters that the Civil Service did not know what they were doing in procuring government financing. The Opposition, who were the last Government, complained bitterly and made accusations about the Financial Secretary of the country for giving them bad advice. If the Opposition and the Auditor General found these faults, why should I not go outside of the civil service to find advice? Why should I be criticized for trying to get advice?
To show why I am complaining bitterly about bureaucratic harassment, I must point out that I’m charged with and it is my responsibility to get government’s finances stabilized and to get the economy in a better position for the betterment of our people. Everything that I am doing for my people, they try to make it look nefarious.
And here is some of what I complain about: When I got elected in May 2009 the Jazz Fest project and Alicia Keys were already decided and I was told by the Acting Director, Mr. Shomari Scott that it was already decided and I could not do anything about it. I have never seen the contract, as I was told that it was already agreed and the Chief Officer was also told that.
The Audit Office went to the Department of Tourism and asked if I had done the contract, they were told by Mr. Scott that the Minister had nothing to do with it as it had already been decided. They went to two other officers in the Department of Tourism and were told the same thing.
When I met with the Auditor General they indicated that when he made his report they would acknowledge this. When he did make his report, he slammed me for what he called undue interference in the matters I just mentioned and gave a report on the Jazz Fest that did not clear up the matter at all and made it look like the current Minister was responsible.
None of the explanations given by Mr. Scott as to why the commitments were made and as to how this type of business is done were included in the report. I take this as a direct slap in the face of the Premier and Minister of Finance and I will speak out when I see deliberate attempts to lay me waste in the public arena – particularly when those persons don’t have the commitment to this country that I have or have accomplished the good I’ve done for this Country.
I believe in good governance but it must be peace, order and good governance, which under British common Law means fairness and unbiased administration, not vindictiveness and undue harassment.
I have nothing more to say other than I will continue in a fair, hardworking manner for the betterment of my people.
The Auditor General’s duty under the Constitution is to report his findings to the Public Accounts committee and the Legislative Assembly; he should not be in these highfalutin every day interviews with the media. He should not be courting the press.
I will continue to support him and his office in getting value for government money spent. I want a better procurement system.