We heard again recently about another case of large sums of public funds being stolen. It was reported in various media that a public servant stole over $150,000 over a period of about 17 months. Public money being stolen seems to be a recurring theme over the ULP regime’s time in office.
The fact that a public servant can steal such a large sum of money, and over an extended period of time, shows that the ULP regime is too lax with public funds.
Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal, BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, has repeatedly called for better financial controls across all government departments and agencies. Public spending and receiving of money should have to be authorized by at least 2 signatories.
It is astonishing that a ‘junior’ clerk – not a senior clerk or senior manager – could steal so much money and no one noticed for almost a year and a half. If payments had to be authorized by two or more persons then this would not happen.
We heard about 9 years ago of a former registrar of the High Court that was accused of theft of public funds. This is down to poor financial controls governing transactions involving public funds. Better checks and regulatory systems are needed when it comes to spending and receiving public money.
We heard last year of a former employee of the Ministry of Agriculture who was accused of stealing over $220,000 between October 2016 and June 2019. Again, this is a vast amount of public funds being wasted. What’s more worrying is that for over two and a half years no one noticed that this huge amount of money was unaccounted for. Two and a half years!
Again, if the ULP regime was not so lax with public funds and had instituted better financial controls across all government departments and agencies, whereby public spending and receiving of money had to be authorized by at least 2 signatories, then this would not happen.
Let’s not forget, we only get to hear about the ones that get caught. If there are more improper financial transactions with public money happening under the ULP regime’s reign, then goodness knows how much public money is being wasted.
Over the ULP regime’s time in government, the office of the SVG Constitutionally-appointed Director of Audit (of public funds) has repeatedly expressed concerns about the ULP regime’s financial controls and management of public funds.
There is so much poverty and unemployment throughout SVG. If all this public money being stolen under the ULP regime’s reign was instead channeled into supporting poor households and creating jobs for our people, our country and our people would be much better served.
Public money belongs to the people of SVG and the ULP regime needs to regulate public funds better than what they have been doing. Ultimately, responsibility for the safety of public funds falls at the top. Government needs to do better.
We need to stop public funds being stolen under the ULP regime’s reign.