October 23, 2009
Opposition party to look into special warrant

A team from the New Democratic Party (NDP) will soon make a determination whether the party should take the matter of the $4 million special warrant to court. {{more}}

This is word coming from Opposition Leader and president of the NDP Arnhim Eustace who made the comment during a press conference Wednesday, October 21.

“My preliminary concern is that we need to have something put in place to avoid corruption,” Eustace contended.

“The special warrant and the way it was put in place was very deficient,” he explained.

The Opposition Leader maintained his position that the special warrant contained no specifics as to how the money was going to be used, except to say that it was being used to fund the ULP’s ‘Yes Vote’ campaign.

According to Eustace, the money could have been used for other activities, particularly the payment of money owed to laid off Government workers.

However, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said the special warrant was issued in accordance and compliance with the provisions of the Finance and Audit Act Number 1 of 1964. This, he said, was signed by Maurice Edwards, the Director General of Finance and Planning.

Gonsalves added that there was a detailed budget that both the Cabinet Secretary and the Director General of Finance and Planning were aware of. The Prime Minister said funds could only be withdrawn from the account under two of four signatories, namely: The Accountant General, the Deputy Accountant General, the Cabinet Secretary or the Senior Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet Secretary.

“They will not sign unless you have the bills, the documentation, to show that there is proper expenditure as happens with any account in government,” said the Prime Minister.

Director of Audit Leon Snagg in response to a letter from Eustace said that he was not in any position to provide any answers regarding the issue. However Snagg assured Eustace that “he will carry out his responsibilities as provided for in the Audit Act.”