Categorized | National News

Darville Calls Audit a ‘Witch Hunt’

Senator Michael Darville has called the impending hurricane relief audit in his former ministry a “witch hunt.”

His comments come after recently sworn in State Minister for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson gave a preliminary assessment of how hurricane relief funds were spent on the island of Grand Bahama, submitting that the manner in which those funds were instructed to be spent “were quite disturbing.”

“On Friday, May 25, 2017, the Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of The Prime Minister issued a very troubling press statement regarding his preliminary findings on clean-up and restoration efforts on the island of Grand Bahama in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, which was part of my responsibility as Minister for Grand Bahama,” Mr. Darville said.

“Let me state unequivocally that during my tenure as Minister for Grand Bahama, members of my team and I executed our duties with integrity, consistent with the laws of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and followed the rules of governance laid down by the Cabinet Office.

“It is very unfortunate that the minister of state would issue a press statement prior to the completion of a full and thorough investigation.  I fully support an audit because I am confident that the findings would prove no wrongdoing.  Furthermore, it was announced by this government and mandated by law, that all government accounts must be audited.”

He added that the minister’s comments were nothing more than “smoke and mirrors.”

“However, I do have a problem with the way this administration is trying to create the impression that something untoward happened without factual information to substantiate such allegations,” Mr. Darville said.

“The minister of state’s so-called ‘troubling findings,’ which suggest to the public some evidence of wrongdoing, will be inconsistent with any auditor’s report. This is not only premature, but reckless and sets a dangerous precedent for this FNM administration.

“The minister’s statements are nothing more than mere smoke and mirrors by the FNM. It is patently obvious that they have no real plan of moving Grand Bahama forward and are trying to buy time to devise an effective plan.

“At no point was a million dollar contract issued during the clean-up and restoration exercise. Before every natural disaster, heavy equipment operators are identified and put on notice of the possible need to utilize their service, sometimes during, and in some instances, immediately following the disaster.  In none of these cases does government require or request bids.

“While serving as minister, I made it clear from the beginning that I entered public life with my integrity intact and would leave with it intact. I will fight with every fiber of my being to protect my good name. I remain confident that the final audit will prove my team and I, at the Ministry for Grand Bahama, acted responsibly in the execution of our duties.”

Mr. Thompson said that an audit of these and other matters will be undertaken to ensure that the public received value for money spent.

He added that his office has instructed that proper protocols be reinstated to prevent abuse.


Written by Jones Bahamas

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