Swarbrick plans wider audit

| 18/08/2011

(CNS): The auditor general will not make any comment about the criticisms of his office made by the premier in relation to the media, a spokesperson said this week. However, the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has confirmed that it will be examining other grant type payments made by government as well as those made under the premier’s Nation Building Programme. Following accusations by McKeeva Bush that the OAG was courting the media, CNS contacted the office and was told that Alastair Swarbrick had nothing to say about the premier’s comments. The spokesperson stated that the office would still go ahead with the audit as planned which will be part of an even wider examination of all so-called “transfer payments” made by government.

The Nation Building Fund (NBF) is listed in the budget as Transfer Payment 52 but government makes numerous other payments to various organisations and initiatives, which the country’s auditor now says he intends to review in the value for money report.

The office said that it would be scrutinizing these payments made by government to ensure value for money across the board and explained that it would be selecting certain payments as case studies.

The auditor general's office had confirmed the planned audit of the Nation Building Programme when it was asked by the media recently in the wake of wide public criticism of the more than $4 million given in grants by the premier to a selection of local churches. The details of where the first $7 million of the $10 million allocated to the fund had gone were revealed earlier this month in two FOI requests.

In a recent statement on TV, the premier took aim at the OAG and accused it of seeking out banner headlines. In comments that were similar to those he made about the previous auditor general, Bush’s criticisms came only weeks after Swarbrick’s first value for money report that was critical of the current administration.

The former AG, Dan Duguay, who learned his contract would not be renewed not long after the premier began accusing him of being a “cowboy” and courting the media, offered his backing to the current AG, saying that Swarbrick's intention to review the programme was correct.

“It is clearly a concern to the Caymanian population and it is important that the Office supports the accountability of public funds as much as possible. If I was still AG, I would certainly be reviewing these payments,” Duguay said, adding that Bush’s comments echoed the sort of things he had said about him.

“I don't believe that I or the current AG were trying to be a media hound. Rather the present AG is just doing his job to the best of his ability. He has announced that he has decided to do a review of expenditures (underthe NBP). This is clearly within the scope of his responsibilities under the PMFL. It is unconscionable that the premier should berate the current AG, along with the hard working staff of the Office, for simply doing their jobs,” Duguay told CNS Wednesday.

“I said during my term, on many occasions, that there is very little accountability of government funds. Sadly, this seems to continue to be true. In fact, it appears to be worse in some respects. In such a situation, the public's best friend is the AG's Office. I believe that it has the support of the public in its goal of improving public accountability. It certainly deserves it.”

The former top auditor, who spent several years in the office, said he had advised the governor to give the new auditor general a six year contract to increase his independence. This did not happen, but Duguay explained that if the post holder was more secure in his position then comments like those made by the premier this week would be less of a concern to the incumbent.

“I call on the governor to make a strong statement in support of the AG. He and the Office that he represents deserve no less,” Duguay added.

Category: Politics

Comments (61)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    People,

     

    Mac and the pastors need to answer the question "Why does a church need protection or strengthening against an "act of God"?

     

    Do they believe that all things are "God's will"?

    • Anonymous says:

      "God helps those who help themselves". They are just  following God's wishes, and helping themselves at the trough.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good for you Mr. Swarbrick and your team. If you must be berated and criticized let it be because you are doing your job…..unlike others! Nuff respect!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mac seems to have a habit of giving away things that may not belong to him for questionable motive or at best without clear checks and balances – first planning regs, then status grants, then government contracts, then “nation building” funds. What’s next? Investigate them all!

  5. Anonymous says:

    That's right, Mr. AG, do not lower your standards to respond to baseless criticisms. Keep your dignity, hold your head high and your feet steady and do not sway in the blast of hot air.  Do not allow yourself to be intimidated.   Continue to do your job well, we are counting on you to fulfil your role in the cause of good governance.   The majority of people who reside in these islands are behind you, and with that type of backing, you have nothing to fear.  

  6. Anonymous says:

    Nation Building scholarship! I do hope that this is examined in detail. XXXX We keep seeing people who dont need financial assistance for further education being given these funds. What is the criteria for this scholarship? who makes the decision on who is granted scholarships? who is responsible for this scholarship? was it advertised? 

    • Anonymous says:

      oh, don't be such a peeping tom…. or satin worshipper…. or a drunkard

  7. Anonymous says:

    What a pity our Premier, who is supposed to be an Ambassador for Cayman, cannot act in a dimplomatic and tactful manner such as our Auditor General does.

    • MacChavez says:

       

       

      Now, do you all understand what I'm trying to tell you? Can you just imagine, the AG "plans wider audit" that includes my nation building fund to the churches? This is precisely why I use such terms as devil worshippers. Can you just imagine, instead of travelling to exotic parts of the globe (doing the countrys business hahaha) I now have to waste time making sure everything with my slush fund, sorry, I mean nation building fund is in order & above board. Oh my, the noose is tightening. I'm not free to do as I once did because of you devil worshippers, please cut me some slack! MacChavez                                                                                    

  8. The Spin Cycle says:

    Transfer Payments are one of the wonderful things a government can do!  They allow a government to re-distribute at it's discretion it's money – your money – to less fortunate people and areas of the country in order to maintain an equitable economic distribution. I've also heard and I don't know if it's true that they also allow a government to re-distribute money at it's discretion to special friends allowing it to pay back for support, or used for bribing and gaining support, or punishing others for lack of support, of it's policies. It is therefore a conerstone of modern democracy. Some call it pork-barrelling or sometimes referred to as kickbacks but they don't know what they're talking about. They are actually called Transfer Payments.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Big Mac has opened a huge can of worms by giving public money to churches. Did he not consider that this gives the auditor authority over examining the churches' finances? He may regret this as I'm sure the pastors will. Maybe they will just give the money back and avoid prying eyes.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Looks like the churches finances will now have to be audited since they received public money.

    Won't it be interesting to see where their money is spent!

     

  11. Anonymous says:

    Blogger 11:28 No one is against Cayman, but rather we are against the actions of the Premier, McKeeva Bush.  We want Fair and Balance Government. We want Transparancy.  We want honesty and we want a clair view of the Money Trail.  We need our Anti-Corruption laws enforced and we want the Public Money to be spent in a responsible way.  The money is not McKeeva Bush's, its the people's money.  So McKeeva why are you so angry, when the people ask you for these things?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Me thinks he doth protest too much.

    So wrote Shakespeare of a man who revealed his own guilt by the volume of his response!

    The Auditor is there for a purpose, to ensure YOUR money is properly used. The rules set by the LA are for the same purpose. As soon as someone believes he is above the law and protests when those like the Auditor General simply do their job, then get very worried about what they are up to.

    The current rant of your leader was to try and deflect your attention, making a religious issue of a financial one. It isnt a question of the rights or otherwise of giving money to churches, its about the fact that he has dispensed public money without going through proper procedure, that lends itself to supposition that he has ulterior motives. If it is all above board, then why is he not going through proper procedures. If he is doing it properly, then why is he concerned at the auditors attention.

    The real problem is that this is just one more matter that makes us wonder if he is up to no good. If he has nothing to worry about, then the very best way to prove it is to let a third party prove it, thats called an audit!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr. Swarbrick for listening to the Cayman people. You have a tough road ahead of you and we are thankful for your efforts. 

    To all the posters on CNS, it's time to praise Mr. Swarbrick for all his efforts. He is the ONLY one listening to our please for help and he will need al the support he can get in the coming year. 

    We also need to praise Peter Milburn for his efforts to stand up against Big Mac. He has been brave enough to sign his name to any posts he writes. I do understand that most of us cannot sign our names as I am from the Brac and cannot, myself, face the retaliation or the wrath that will rain down upon my family. 

    The Governor is conveniently missing from this equation and one has to wonder why. The PPM has been silent during all this and I suspect it's because they are waiting to get their hands on the big prize once it becomes freed up. Pay particular attention to the fact that the "fries" are silent during all this. Why aren't we hearing from the Independents? 

    Our country needs leadership and not the same dictatorship that has been going on for the last 10-15 years. The PPM will do the same thing to us should they gain control. Big Mac and his fries have done irreparable damage to these islands. 

    Please. I beg you – show support of Mr. Swarbrick as he may be our salvation in the end. 

     

    Signed – Annoymous and scared to death.

    • Anominous says:

      I agree with the majority of your views but clearly you have not been paying attention to (a) the history and reputation of the two parties (b) the facts over the last 8 years and (c) the PPM and independent Ezzard Miller's press conference today.The PPM has not been silent, they have no history of graft and corruption and they delivered the Freedom of Information legilslation without which we wouldnt have a clue what was going on today and we probably wouldnt be commenting on this excellent article right now. I am sure you will be having an opportunity to similarly comment on articles arising from today's press conference as well. Hardly silent and definitely havent done and will not do the same thing!  

      • Anonymous says:

        I have been paying close attention to the history and reputations of both parties and the facts over the course of the years you specified. Don't try to hold the PPM up on a pedestal just because they introduced the FOI as they didn't do much else while they were in power.

         

        The 2 party system in the Cayman Islands is seriously flawed if you can have 2 MLA's on the Brac, one of which is 1st elected and the other is UDP and just because the UDP gets in, the UDP MLA has all the power and the 1st elected does not? Not that I agree with the Brac's 1st elected either.

         

        They've all been curiously quiet up until today. 

         

        • Strangers in the night says:

          Anon 15:37, you anti-PPM'ers must try & get your complaints in order. On one hand we constantly hear that the PPM government did "TOO MUCH," especially the new schools (which were done for the youth & future generations), new roads (which were done for the betterment of Cayman), the new government building (which will save millions & millions over the years), yet on the other hand you (& a few others) say "they didn't do much else while they were in power." PLEASE MAKE UP YOUR MINDS! You seem confused. Is it that the PPM did too much, or is it "they didn't do much else' (than pass the FOI)? Which is it? It cannot be both! 

          • Anonymous says:

            Unfortunately, they're simply going by what McKeeva tells them, and there cannot possibly be any doubt at all that McKeeva is confused. 

        • Anonymous says:

          One man one vote is at the core of democracy. Your point about the Brac representation is a good one, and the same point is multiplyed in West Bay, wher 4 representatives effectively get carried in on one persons following.

          Until you alter that, then mathematically it is certain that a minority of members will control the house, and thus, if they are so minded, treat the house with contempt. Your leader does just that, and so can do as he pleases with public funds, and treat Government capital expenditure as his own grace and favour. We dont know, but many suspect that this gives rise to personal profiting from government expenditure, either directly or indirectly. That is a bad place for the Islands to be, make sure your auditor has your support, with him you might, just might find out if the suspicions are correct, and if they are, put him where he belongs! 

  14. Power of the People says:

    Here's my problem with the whole concept of THIS government having a Nation Building Fund – there is a clear bias in effect which prevents a fair and equitable distribution of said funds.

    The minute the premier or most of his comrades detect that you are not a supporter you are written out of the will. Simple. Every comment from the premier following a criticism of his role, actions, abuse…whatever…is prefaced with "Well, I done know you don't support me so…". In other words, that person's personal opinion is as useful as a hole in the head and not will not be taken on board. End of story.

    That concludes with the notion that the majority (dare I say all?) of any funding distributed by this gov't through that Fund is specifically geared towards people who are supportive of this gov't, or have been "won over". In other words, people who are most grateful for your assistance might feel obligated to "help you out" later on when you call in the favour…no?

    Checks and balances are a necessary part of any business. Accountability when government spending is involved is a must! This is OUR money honey. We have a right to know where it's going. My spouse (rightfully so) wants to know where our combined marital funds are spent at the end of the month – which keeps us honest and in the black.

    Is that not exponentially more important when you are handling a country's cash reserves or "funds" – whilst claiming bankrupcy?

    The AGO is well within its rights to pursue a line of investigation if there is ANY degree of questionability. To challenge this right, to insult the AG, to suggest that an entire country of people are devil worshippers because they demand better, want transparency and have a deep-seated (and well warranted) suspicion of the motives and modus operandi of the people paid to lead is a clear symptom of a meglomanic, dictator-styled government which does not want ANYONE to see what goes on behind closed doors. That is worrying. VERY worrying.

    The definition of "government" indicates a body, a group, a collective. I think we are all aware of the actual truth of the make-up of the CIG. I am so very disappointed in the other members involved who are clearly silent and obviously whipped into submission. There are some promising MLAs in there who can do great things. Their affiliation with this style of governance is upsetting and I hope that a lesson will be taught in the next elections. Further to that thought, I would think that a lesson should be taught BEFORE 2 more yrs of this nonsense is allowed to continued. WE have the power my people.

    I support the AG's choice to investigate. It is the right and DEMOCRATIC thing to do.

    Any objections to that process will be taken as a definite act of repression of truth, liberty and justice and should be treated as hostile and anti-democratic. We have a right to know where the money has been spent and WHY.

     

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes we need checks and balances but what we have is cheques and and outstanding balance due.

       

       

  15. Anonymous says:

    I strongly feel that busts of Alastair Swarbrick, Jennifer Dilbert and Dan Duguay are placed in places of honour in the new heritage park.

     

    They are true modern day heros.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let's include Nicky and Wendy as they are being instrumental in changing the history of the Cayman Islands with their online newspaper. They are both true heros.

    • Anonymous says:

      A bust?  Seriously… do I look like a god to you? 

    • Anonymous says:

      And if they are devils. I will still come to worship.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The governor of the Cayman Islands is no fool, and he knows that there are many wolves just out to get the hide of the premier.  In saying this I do hope the media especially CNS will walk a centre line and not stagger like a drunken man.  They know for sure that it only a few caymanians who blog on here, and the majority that is fanning this fire is not from here.  I know Dennie and CNS may have had their falling out with the premier, but I would like to say, when these people who are trying to destroy Cayman are all gone with their millions Dennie and MacKeva bush will still be around shopping at the same supermarket. and pumping gass at the same gas station.  Why are you people being so negative against Cayman when you are earning your bread here is beyond me.

    • A True Democrat says:

      You Sir/ Madam, should first remove your head  from where-ever you have it stuck, this way you'll be able to see what the rest of us are seeing! 

    • Anonkymous says:

      How would CNS know how many caymanians blog on here??? Do YOU have to identify your nationality or even your name for that matter??

      What? Just because many of the posts sound educated and legible you assume that they are written by expats?

      I am a Caymanian. I am intelligent. I go by more than one moniker andI have an opinion that I do not require help forming. I am eloquently spoken, well written, have an impressive grasp of the English language and an enormous vocabulary. Very rarely meet a word in every day use that I do not understand or am unfamiliar with the meaning. I was educated right here in the Cayman Islands. I am not the only one of my kind.

      So please, before you make the assumption that the only ones on here that 'get it' are expats who 'fan the flames', appreciate that there are some sensible Caymanians – more than some – who are sick and tired of this government's maddening need to gain more power than we have given them. Caymanians who are not swayed by empty promises and an open bar tab. Caymanians who deeply love our country and realize that the real destruction of our beloved home is facilitated by the agenda of one man.

      Expats would not be able to enter this country, get rich and destroy it upon exiting if they were not given the key to the city in the first place. Our way of life has been altered by the poor governance of those we elected to protect us.

      I talk with my fellow Caymanians daily about the dramas of this country. They all feel the same as me! Very few support what is happening.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you would be surprised how many Caymanians are voicing opinion on here, me being one.  If you can't see what's wrong with dispensing money without it being transparent then there's not much hope.

      In everything Government do they have to show accountability, not just be good enough, I wouldn't  care if McKeeva was the most honest man in the world I would still want the process of who can apply for the funds, how they can apply and what good it will do to be obvious.

      What we are left with now are some good intentions muddied by a murky process and everyone who has received money tainted with suspicion.  I have to assume that there has been some good done with the money but I also am now left wondering was this the best use of the money.

      Questioning bad practices should be encouraged otherwise nothing ever changes, you may not be comfortable with change and that's understandable but you can't stick your head in a bucket.   McKeeva messed up in how he went about this and he's only got himself to blame.  The checks and balances are there for a reason.

    • South Sounder says:

       The reason that we won't be here is because we were all rolled over!

      The concern expressed in CNS over the corruption on this island, is largely voiced by people who hail from countries, where this kind of immoral behavior is punished in law….here it's all quietly swept under the carpet and there are no Investigative journalists to expose the individuals concerned, the Police run round in circles, because nobody will give evidence for fear or retribution….

      Good job this Land is blessed or we'd all be in deep trouble…….

    • Anonymous says:

      I have nothing negative at all to say about Cayman I love Cayman and its people with a passion and with all my heart.  But it breaks my heart to come across people like you who simply cannot see the harm this man is doing to YOUR country and YOUR people.  Why you cannot see this is beyond me.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you so very much, brave one. I will personally organize a march for you if your permit is not renewed. Cayman loves you too, and if we could, we certainly would not allow you to let idiots break your heart.

    • Seriously??? says:

      MacKeeva pump gas?  Bwoy yoo fool – unna nah kno you an' me pay fi someone to pump gas for him…

      The only gas MacKeewa pumps is hot gas over the airwaves…

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear anonymous. None of the millions I made here last year came from Cayman. My money comes from international investing. Some of my money went to pay employees of the supermarkets, gas stations, accounting firms, law firms, auto dealership, government fees and duties as well as numerous gift shops and restaurants and charities. I brought money here from the outside world and supported our economy. If and when I leave, Cayman will no longer have access to my money. If you think people like me should leave then where will that leave the rest of you?

       

      A smarter way for you to think would be to give me and others like me Cayman status and voting rights in order to keep us here spending our money and bringing more in. Where do you think the money in your pay cheque comes from? It does not grow on trees, it is brought here by people like me. You as a Caymanian have the ability and power to shape the future of this country. How you shape it will depend on those who you invite to be a part of the country. Granting status to the right kind of people will help re-define what a Caymanian is. A country is defined by its' people. Who you want living here should be a no-brainer.

       

      But of course if you hold a position of political power then the last thing you would want is to give status to the rich, educated expats for fear they would interfere with your political agenda. Imagine what Cayman would be like if instead of handing out 3000 status grants to laborers and domestic help, the Premier instead gave status to those who bring money to the island instead to those who send it back home to their homelands?

       

      If we leave to go work in Bermuda, Ireland or places where the cost of living isn’t so high you will be left to fend for yourselves. Just like the old days.

       

       

      • Anonymous says:

        If it makes you feel better, as a born Caymanian, if I could replace McKeeva with you, I would do so right this minute. 

    • Anonymous says:

      There are no gas stations or supermarkets in Northward.

    • Anonymous says:

      Using your alter ego – Tracy from swamp – I have seen very few people in this world that spell gas as gass. I guess you are one of the few people that comment as various personalities on this website.

      I am a Caymanian with an extensive professional background. It seems pretty clear to me that the governor is no fool. He is unfortunately rather timid but is understandably trying to not interfere unless it is absolutely necessary. Undoubtedly it seems it is now absolutely necessary so dont be surprised if he becomes a righteous wolf.

      The logic of your proposition is lost on me. If the "majority that is fanning this fire is not from here" and they are happy to leave with "their millions" what interest would they have in fanning anything or "trying to destroy Cayman"? The laws of human nature suggest that anyone making millions in the current environment and with this government would be so close to them you couldnt stick a feeler gauge in between them.

      No dear, Dennie takes the pictures, CNS reports on the news and the people who are interested comment extensively and share their opinions. Those who comment here have an interest they are promoting or protecting. The vast majority who seem to be promoting the interest of the country are equally likely to be Caymanian as non Caymanian and some, such as yourself are trying to protect the interests of "MacKeva". I hope you are getting paid to do so – something positive must come of such futile effort.

      One more thing, I dare you to prove that "MacKeva"has been shopping in any supermarket or pumping "gass" anywhere. It is not something one does when one has a chef, a driver and a jumped up perspective on the public purse it seems. 

      • Anonymous says:

        I think they meant that Mac would shop while Dennie pumped gassssssssz

      • Anonymous says:

        Gass? The more letters it has the more Mac can justify jacking the price up.

    • Right ya so says:

      I am a Caymanian and I am "fanning the fire" and I want that man gone! Honestly to continue to support McKeeva defies all logic and common sense – to have supported him from the beginning defies all logic and common sense but to continue to support and defend him defies belief!

    • Anonymous says:

      Another demonstration of the direct corollary between "MacKeva" supporters and illiteracy.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I applaud your plans to audit the Nation Building funds given to the churches and other interests. In this regard a question of insurance arises. After Ivan my insurance rate quadrupled. I would imagine that insurance for church buildings rose substantially as well. My question is, are the churches who received these funds properly insured? If they are not fullly insured, who is liable for repairs due to storm damage? Does the congregation contribute enough to cover such expense? Since churches are now receiving public funds, should they not be subjected to auditing by the AG as well?

     

    My overall point here is that there is no portfilio or department of churches in government. Therefore public money should not be handed to churches if they are not at least fully insured in order to protect the money they receive whether such transfers are right or wrong.

    You as AG are now obligated to perform detailed audits of the churches accounts by virtue of them having received public funds.

     

    I hope your results show that we the people are not paying the insurance fees for churches.

     

  18. Anonymous says:

    I hope the AG is not backing down by stating now that the investigation is part of a wider audit…Standup AG and let the people of Cayman know how our money is being spent…

  19. Anonymous says:

    Alastair – you just keeping dong your job well. We will take care of the Mac attacks via CNS. And THANK YOU. 

    I'm not a PPM supporter. I'm for good and fair governance. 

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Good and fair governance…principles the PPM practice.

      • Anonymous says:

        Until a friend wants to boot someone off the island for personal reasons. Lies become truth and laws are ignored. The Boards still call their friends rather than abide by the law. This is neither fair nor good governance.It too is CORRUPTION. And before you respond, find out the number of people the PPM kicked out, or attempted to and are under appeals. Its irrelevant who created the law in this discussion.

        • Anonymous says:

          You mean the corrupt people that rightfully and were timely removed through process??

  20. Southside says:

    Mac…. you met your match now bo bo!!!!

    So for once in your life… just sit down and shut up Mackewa! We the people are sick and tired of your B*****T! Let the AG do his job!

    I hope there would be serious physical protests from the public if Mac trys to remove another honest hard working "cow boy" AG from office!!

     

  21. Anonymous says:

    Mr Swarbrick and Mr Duguay are exactly the type of people that we need in these kind of positions.  The Caymanian people have to have accountability and by doing their jobs correctly and distinctly, the people of Cayman will receive accountability.  There is something amiss when certain persons find this objectionable.  Mr Swarbrick and 'Dan Dan' should have been given status!

  22. 4th CLASS CITIZEN says:

    We can't trust our leader and his puppets this is a fact here in these Islands. We are very tired of this government's behavior and welcome the oppertunity to change it as soon as possible. Please tell me if I'm the only one that feels this way?

  23. Anonymous says:

    dan…a  class act…..

    cns: can you also follow up on the delays to the ag reports on gov tendering?

    CNS Note: Yes we have asked for an update – watch this space.

  24. Anonymous says:

    As long as the AG is auditing funds approved by Finance Committee and spent by Government its okay — that is what he should be doing, that is his role.

     

    "Pre-auditing" ( prior to funds being spent or even voted for in FC is not his role at all). Hopefully he is doing the former and not working ouside his remit as was indicated last week.