This is an article penned by a university student on the state affairs in Choiseul/Saltibus and St. Lucia generally. It is a very profound message, thoroughly grounded in research and analysis and may well represent the position of the youth of this country. It makes interesting reading and I have published it unedited. Enjoy!
On Wednesday January 26, 2011, our External Affairs Minister, Rufus George Bousquet indicated during the 7:00 pm news broadcast of HTS and DBS that he had received a sum of money from the Moroccan Government and had deposited that money in a bank account of the Choiseul Village Council. He indicated further that he did not deposit the money in the Government’s Consolidated Fund because “monies disappear quickly from the Consolidated Fund”.
It seems to me that our External Affairs Minister cares nothing about upholding the provisions of our Constitution and the Finance Act and its attendant Regulations. According to our Constitution and our Finance Act the External Affairs Minister is duty bound and obligated to cause all monies he receives on the account of the State of St.Lucia to be deposited in the country’s Consolidated Fund. THIS IS NOT HIS CHOICE TO MAKE.
Chapter IV, Section 77 of the Constitution stipulates as follows:-
“All revenues or other moneys raised or received by Saint Lucia (not being revenues or other moneys that are payable, by or under any law for the time being in force in Saint Lucia, into some other fund established for specific purpose) shall be paid into and form a Consolidated Fund”
Chapter 15.01, Finance (Administration) Act, Section 7 (1) (2) stipulates as follows:
(1) Subject to the Constitution and except as otherwise provided in this Act, all revenues and other monies raised or received for the purposes of the Government, not being revenue or other monies which are payable by or under any enactment into some other fund established for a specific purpose, shall be paid into and form part of the Consolidated Fund.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), monies raised or received include monies received by way of a grant, donation, gift or other like method.
From the above it is pellicudly clear that Minister Bousquet’s bullish and arrogant announcement regarding funds from the Moroccan Government is indeed a most serious and damaging act and this has untold negative consequences for the financial management reputation of St.Lucia.
The other interesting issue about Minister Bousquet’s announcement is “which bank account he caused the funds to be deposited into”. Is it the same bank account which was opened by the Accountant General for the Choiseul Village Council for the sole purpose of depositing funds and processing payments for small works projects under the Special Programme for Councils? If this is the case or a new bank account was opened there is more trouble “in the camp” because this is what Chapter 15.01 of the Revised Laws, Finance (Administration) Act, Section 33 (1) (2) stipulates:
(1) All sums accounted for in the Consolidated Fund shall be kept with such banks as the Accountant General shall determine.
(2) A public or official account shall not be opened at any bank without the prior written authority and direction of the Accountant General.
Further, Finance Regulation 113 gives the following additional reason as to why the Minister has committed a most egregious act and this is what it stipulates:
(1) Bank accounts shall not be opened or operated except with the approval of the Accountant General.
(2) The Accountant General shall issue instructions as may be necessary for the opening and operation of bank accounts.
(3) The authority to operate a bank account shall be granted only to an accounting officer.
The most troubling, disturbing and dangerous issue about this whole development is that a whole week has passed since the External Affairs Minister made his statement. However none of the three (3) public authorities (Minister of Finance, Director of Finance and Accountant General) on matters of the Consolidated Fund has made any statement to reassure donor and lending institutions and countries, that this not an official Government Practice in St.Lucia.
Having said that, the question is does any of them have the moral authority to make such a statement? I think not. The Taiwanese Government has indulged in the practice of channeling grant funds away from the Consolidated Fund and directly to Parliamentarians and these parliamentarians have channeled these funds through various towns and village councils. There is no indication that any of these public authorities has attempted to stop the practice. In fact, the PM and Minister for Finance has vigorously defended that illegal practice.
Further, there is a very senior Treasury Department employee who has been the Chairman of a Village Council for quite a number of years, through which Taiwanese Funds have been channeled. The Accountant General has remained silent on the matter. Consequently, it will be hypocritical and an expression of “double standards” if the Accountant General was to act only in this case. The Accountant General will have to act against most if not all towns and village councils, including many other Government Ministries, chief among them will be the Ministry of Agriculture. However, Accountant General is duty-bound to act and must act now. It is better to be late than never!
Excellent analysis! Lots of talent in Choiseul. So why must you have a Bruce Tucker?ReplyDelete
Does Rufus Bousquet deserve to be Foreign Minister? Shouldn't the PM fire him for breaking the Laws of this Country? what is the AG's advice? Should he not recommend that Bousquet be fired? If King fires the the con artist, then he will be the only minister in living history who would be fired for a third time? by the way, what is Rick saying? They say birds of a feather flock together.ReplyDelete
Will the AG have Tucker on his platform today? If he does, then St. Lucia is in serious trouble.ReplyDelete
Will the AG have Tucker on his platform today? I expect Tucker, as well as Mondesir, to be on the AG's platform today. Rudolph Francis has done nothing since he became AG to make me think otherwise.ReplyDelete
This AG has only proven to me that he is no better than the previous, Nicholas Frederick:
1) He badly handled the 'Italian Job'.
2) Out of 14 cases past to him from the previous AG, he's decided to settle the majority of them out of court. Does this make him more efficient than N. Frederick?
3) This AG has been furnished with tons of resources (much more than Frederick). He has hired legal draftsmen and consultants from all over the world to draft laws to take to the house of parliament, yet Dr Anthony still had to make corrections to them in the House of Parliament last week. Is the AG trying to hide his limited legal competence to independently formulate laws and policies?
4) In high profile cases against the gov't, one expects direct representation from the AG(as is practiced in the US); what court case has this AG participated in? He has chosen instead to spend thousands of taxpayers dollars to hire lawyers(Reginald Armour, etc) from the region to defend the gov't .
5) The AG, like Richard Frederick, has publicly expressed his support for selling the Queen's chain.
6) One still has to wait weeks to get a birth certificate from the civil status registry.
7) Despite repeated press conferences and hard-talk on crime from Francis, the crime situation continues to escalate under his tenure. The only strategy brought forth by the AG so far is to arrest school kids found on the road after 6PM.
So I ask again; what has Francis done to differentiate himself from the previous AG? Is Francis more efficient than Frederick? Is Francis' rate of implementation any better than Frederick’s? Is Doddy now competing with Frederick for the title of "Most inefficient AG to Serve St. Lucia"?
Several months after getting the job we are still waiting to see how Doddy gets it done.