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Oct 31, 2019

New PAC Report Highlights Government Losses and Lack of Accountability

The annual report of the Public Accounts Committee for 2017/2018 has been released.  While it brings out areas where government has lost millions of dollars due to a number of factors, the Auditor General makes the point that it is not a true and fair view of the government because critical information has been erased and there is no proper supervision of government finances. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a first look at the report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Public Accounts Committee, led by Chairman Julius Espat, has put together its annual report for 2017-2018.  Of particular interest are the major findings in various financial reviews conducted by Auditor General Dorothy Bradley.  In one area of the Auditor General’s report she is quoted as saying that “the financial statements presented for auditing do not give a true and fair view of the Government of Belize’s financial position as at March thirty-first, 2013, in accordance with the Finance and Audit Reform Act of 2005.”  In understanding what has been put forward by Bradley in her report, it is construed that there has been a less than accurate recording of information pertaining to government finances, essentially positing that documents, as well as key data have been erased, and that the entirety of the government system is being run without proper supervision.  Several cases have been cited where government has lost significant sums of money to one company it did business with over the course of a single fiscal year.

 

In close examination, the Auditor General noted that the Ministry of Works, at the time under Anthony “Boots” Martinez’s portfolio, enjoyed a particularly comfortable relationship with a businessman in Belmopan who owns and operates Special Effects and Special Effects Performance.  That relationship resulted in government losing one point two million dollars in a single fiscal year.  Broken down, GOB lost over one hundred and sixty-one thousand dollars due to price differences.  In other words, when a comparison was made using prices for items bought by the Ministry of Works, it was discovered that costs were significantly higher using the Belmopan companies.  The greatest loss, however, was incurred when eight hundred and thirty thousand dollars in items that had been ordered were not received at the various storerooms across the country, despite a contractual agreement with the supplier.

 

The report from the Public Accounts Committee, a twenty-page read, encompasses various government ministries, including the Ministry of Education where grants are said to have been approved without requisite documentation.  Accountability insofar as proof of Belizean nationality, invoices from the respective educational institutions and attendance are equally lacking.  News Five will have more on the PAC report on Friday when we go one-on-one with Chairman Julius Espat.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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