Audit follows up on NBF

| 10/09/2014

(CNS): With millions of dollars of public money given out to churches, charities, students and other non-governmental organisations under the controversial Nation Building Fund without any proper oversight, the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has confirmed it is still following up on what happened to the cash. The office first confirmed it would look at the Fund some three years ago. The NBF was created by the former premier, Mckeeva Bush, and although he insisted there was a committee managing the substantial amounts doled out to applicants, following his exit from office questions were raised about the existence of any genuine oversight, how the public money had been given out and what it had been used for.

The auditor general usually focuses on examining the government’s own books but on this occasion the office had to approach the governor for authorization to contact the people and organisations who received the grants. The public management and finance law allows the public audit office to include non-government entities in its audits if it is in the public interest.
Given the public outcry and the concerns raised about the way the NBF grants were handed out, the audit office stated last year that it would be undertaking a value for money audit examining the entire fund.

“The Office of the Auditor General is continuing its performance audit of all payments made from the Nation Building Fund and how they were administered by government.  The audit includes obtaining information from a sample of recipients about how they used the funds,” a spokesperson from the office told CNS this week as he confirmed that it was not just the churches that were being called to account for the money.

The audit office which faces a packed agenda had originally signalled its intention to start the audit on the Nation Building Fund in 2011 

A significant amount of cash was given to churches in what are now the well documented issues surrounding what was described by some as a “political slush fund”.

As a result of the public outcry and controversy that followed when the details of how much had been doled out from public funds was revealed several churches opted to give the money back. The grants had been made at a time when government was forced to make cuts in many areas including civil servants pay.

Bush defended the fund on several occasions and especially his decision to direct that money be given to local religious organisations. The former premier had taken the position that helping the churches and helped young people via various NGOs would build better communities and keep young people out of trouble and out of jail. The former leader took the view that donating government funds to youth development programmes in churches or other charitable organisations was cheaper than paying for young people in prison.

The controversies arose however when it became apparent that there was no clear criteria or policy position governing the allocation of the public money. The implication by Bush’s former Cabinet colleagues, in the post UDP minority administration, was that the decisions over who got what cash were made directly by the former premier.

At least $10million was believed to have been given out from the fund following its creation in the 2009 budget.

Related stories:
http://caymannewsservice.com/politics/2011/08/11/ag-probe-nation-building
http://caymannewsservice.com/politics/2011/08/05/churches-get-4m-public-cash
http://caymannewsservice.com/politics/2013/02/24/fund-politicizes-church
http://caymannewsservice.com/politics/2013/11/22/nbf-grants-3x-scholarships
http://caymannewsservice.com/politics/2013/07/11/wb-church-gives-money-back
http://caymannewsservice.com/politics/2013/04/18/2nd-church-giving-cash-back

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Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The recipients of the grants were decided by the drawing of lots, those lots being numbers on roulette wheels in casinos in Vegas.  So you see it was official business.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Don't worry Mr. Auditor General and Caymanian tax payers – as I have stated many times; "My hands are clean and my heart is pure" !!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    QUESTION TO CNS

    There are at least 13-14 Churches that received funds from the NBF – is the Wesleyan Holiness Church the only Church on that list that you have a picture of?  Why not show us some of the others? That would be interesting.

    • Anonymous says:

      Remember the big one in Greenwood Park aka "Swamp" that backs onto the Harquail Bypass and had the BIG BIG sign of the UDP candidates?? What was that one called? Who owns that church (Hint: It's not God)?

  4. anonymous says:

    It’s coming people! A different sort of hurricane this time. By the end of September I will be sitting back with a large G and T smiling to myself, watching it unfold here and in other parts of the Caribbean.
    Let the games begin!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Are any of these churches, programs, individuals still around?  Could you kindly update us on the failures or success of the recipients of our money? Are the Churches saving souls or offering assistance to the needy? Are the sport clubs or boxing facility still functional? Are the training programs still in existence? etc? etc? Did we get value for money donated to the various entities?  We all have a right to know.  Please provide the empirical and pragmatic data.  

  6. Anonymous says:

    Please provide us with a list of the chairperson and members of the committee of this fund? 

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL…. are you serious? No committees, just one man rule

    • Knot S Smart says:

      I heard that the committee had the chairman and five other members and they were:

      Mac as chairman, andthe other members were Mac 2, Mac 3, Mac 4, Mac 5, and last but not least Mac 6…

  7. Anonymous says:

    AG is doing a great job.  But we knowwhat this is going to find: there was very little oversight, Mac had effective control over the grants and there was huge potential for abuse but none can be proven. We can speculate that Mac used the NBF to buy influence and votes and in exchange for unkown quid pro quos but it will only ever be more speculation. And all this 3-5 years after the fact.

    What we need is some real time monitoring.  Someone who can step in and put a stop to this stuff before the money is gone, and who can name and shame the public officers who are abusing our money. Ideally we should be able to remove them from office if it can be shown that they didn't follow the rules.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The picture reminds us where the magnitude of the money was wasted. What a disgrace!

    • ChrisJohnson says:

      I see no money given to sports clubs to encourage juniors to take up sports as a pastime. There are many clubs that would have welcomed assistance. I see no money given to service clubs whose community service committees are well versed in determining the most worthy cases. I respect the work of the Auditor General who has the obligation to 'follow the money' and hope that the recipients of his enquiries provide some meaningful information.

       

    • Anonymous says:

      YOU ARE SO WRONG 9:52

      This wasn't where the money was wasted, take a closer look at the list. In case you forgot, the Wesleyan Holiness Church West Bay returned 3/4 of a million dollars to government and are also in the process of returning to government the property purchased with the funds,

       

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wonder where the very expensive "Christian" bell went????

  10. Anonymous says:

    For those keeping count, here's a reference sheet of those that have accepted Nation Building Fund payments since 2009.  Perhaps CNS could update this so we can keep track of who, if any, will return their payments.  48% are churches, 31% to various grants, and less than 16% to education.  Looking at the aportionment, and knowing the considerable personal discretion that was allowed, it's hard to understand how JOCC or her predecessor can pretend that education took priority over the church grants (feel free to update or correct), or that any considered thought was put into this at all:

    CHURCHES:

    Wesleyan Holiness Church West Bay KYD$1,300,000.00 !

    Church of God Bodden Town KYD$1,000,000.00 !

    Church of God West Bay  KYD$450,000.00 !

    Seventh Day Adventist Church West Bay  KYD$275,000.00 !

    Light of the World Christian Fellowship KYD$180,000.00 !

    All Nation United Pentecostal  KYD$175,000.00 !

    New Testament Church West Bay KYD$130,000.00

    90 & 9 Outreach Ministry KYD$125,000.00

    Church of God Frank Sound  KYD$125,000.00

    Wesleyan Holiness Church George Town  KYD$122,585.00

    Convent Moravian Church KYD$104,991.00

    Seventh Day Adventist Church KYD$100,000.00

    Church of God Holiness Red Bay KYD$100,000.00

    Hillside Chapel Cayman Brac  KYD$50,000.00 <== ONLY PAYMENT RETURNED!!!

    GRANTS:

    Pines Retirement Home KYD$>1,500,000.00

    Cayman Traditional Arts "Bringing Heritage to Life" 2x KYD$60,000.00 = KYD$120,000.00

    Boxer Charles Whittaker Camana Bay Fight Purse KYD$100,000.00

    Boxing related expenses KYD$31,050.00

    Boxing Gym Renovations West Bay KYD$25,000.00

    Cayman Scouts Association KYD$100,000.00

    MORE GRANTS:

    St. Lucia and St. Vincent Hurricane Relief?!?  KYD$83,750.00

    Cayman National Cultural Foundation  KYD$75,000.00

    Kem Jackson for Cayman Catboat Club KYD$65,000.00

    Hurricane Shutters for unidentified buddies  KYD$64,879.79 

    Superior Auto Mechanics Training Programme KYD$61,000.00

    James Anglin to turn Jeffrey Wilson into a Musical Talent  KYD$60,000.00

    James Anglin needed more money  KYD$8,000.00

    Hope for Today Foundation KYD$55,000.00

    Imaginary museum on Boggy Sand Road?  KYD$54,800.00

    National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, a real museum KYD$50,000.00

    A CCTV monitoring system KYD$45,000.00

    Somebody's Randyke Gardens sewage issue  KYD$40,000?  

    Payment to Barry Martinez from NRA KYD$35,000.00

    Another Barry Martinez payment KYD$10,344.38

    And yet another Barry Martinez payment KYD$24,655.62

    STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS:

    99 unidentified students  KYD$1,500,000.00

    OTHER:

    Misc Barkers "Consultants"  KYD$46,000

    Select Local Matrix Intl contract victims KYD$365,000.00

    Jubilee Park/Christian Heritage Monument KYD$58,000.00 <== Not only was this plan scrapped, Cabinet approved a further KYD$1,000,000.00 for this park: where is the money?

     

    • Anonyanmous says:

      Thank you poster 8:51 for posting the list especially of the churches that received the grants.  I am so very grateful for that.  As I thought the churches that matters most to me, none are on the list.

    • Anonymous says:

      This list is not accurate, as I know Red Bay Church of God (Holiness) did not accept any money that was offered to them by Government. The Church refused the money as did a few others.

      • Anonymous says:

        14:29, You are wrong, they accpeted and then after aot of pressure, returned it.

    • Anonymous says:

      The entries for fictional Museums and croanies amount to a violation of trust on a magnitude of scale to the Vegas ATM commotion.  So well documented, how could this go unnoticed?

    • Anonymous says:

      If funds were paid for CCTC cameras are they use din public domain? or private residence? or worse, government's cctv programme was paid for by fund then we also paid the business from another fund? was teh cctv for Eric Bush's project?

    • Anonymous says:

      08.51, why am I always in the wrong damn queue? Can you give me a heads up next time they dishing this out and tell me where it at?

    • Anonymous says:

      Not too hard to spot the heavy West Bay and UDP supporters bias.

  11. Anonymous4 says:

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  12. Anonymous says:

    You can't audit God!  I sure that's somewhere in the bible

  13. SKEPTICAL says:

    The person who implemented the Nation Building Fund distributions has consistently denied that  he influenced in any way, the choice of beneficiaries. Presumably therefore, it would be easy to produce Minutes of the meetings of whatever body decided on who should receive funds, and how much. detailing debates and votes on any proposed payments.

    • Anonymous says:

      00:38, in the real world you would expect such decisions to be recorded by way of Minutes of the Meeting, but come on now, we are dealing with Mac and his cronies. Do you realy think anything was recorded. That would be labelled as good governance, two words that could never be associated with the UDP.

      And if they did record Minutes, do you honestly think they would be any better than than what we see with Franz and his meetings? All Franz does is pray and close the meeting according to theirs.

       

      • Anonymous says:

        You don't think you're seeing the real minutes, do you? The real minutes are recorded, but they are witheld from the public and circulated only to a small group. The "official" minutes that the public get to see are a pretense. Something else that should be investigated.

      • SKEPTICAL says:

        Clearly you are not familiar with the expression " tongue in cheek " .