2021 Auditor General Report Hits ‘Bestseller’ List, Again

Auditor General, Leigh Trotman

The 2021 Auditor General Report is in and guaranteed to be another best seller. As usual Auditor General Mr. Leigh Trotman and team outlined a number of incomplete and questionable transaction done by our public servants.

What Barbadians can be guaranteed arising from the 2021 Auditor General Report is that the 2022 report will be more of the same. Although former Opposition Leader Bishop Joe Atherley has voiced concerns about a moribund Public Service Committee (PAC) during the current dispensation with no elected opposition in the Lower House – the question for the good Bishop is tell when has the workings of the PAC ever made a difference? Mind you the blogmaster is not disputing the fact the PAC is designed to be an important working committee in our system of governance.

Since taking the post of Auditor General in 2006, I have requested the filling

of a number of vacancies, and a few additional staff have been supplied. However, the

rate of loss of staff due to retirement, transfers or resignations has far outweighed the

number added. This has resulted in a chronic shortage of manpower, especially at the management level, and results in Executive Management having to take on additional

responsibilities, such as leading audit teams, which is not the best use of this resource.

2021 Auditor General Report

To be honest the blogmaster stopped reading after the Auditor General’s introductory comment on pages 9 and 10. What is the point of reading the same old same old that continues under BLP and DLP governments? There was high expectation given to the public by Minister Ryan Straughn in the finance ministry when the 2019 Public Finance Management Act was passed in parliament. To date state owned entities (SOEs) have largely ignored a key requirement of the ACT which is to present timely financials. We wonder why apathy, cynicism and significant disengagement by citizens continues to grow. Can we seriously describe what we practice as a relevant democratic system of government?

How can a people have confidence in any government of Barbados- including the BLP incumbent with its unprecedented 30-0 mandate- if it is unable to demonstrate an adequate financial management standard of public monies? The NIS fund and Clearwater comes to mind.

Why does the Auditor General have to repeat year after year, whether B or D government, that he does not have adequate resources to efficiently give account how public monies are spent? Instead the BLP administration had no problem establishing a Public Affairs Unit which many believe duplicates the functions of the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS). We know why ‘dont’ we?

#tired #NTSH

The Auditor General Report 2016 | Business as Usual

The findings contained in the 2016 Auditor General Report 2016 confirms that there has been no improvement in how government manages its financial affairs under a DLP government. The vast majority of state agencies still do n0t have updated financials available for the Auditor General Office to do its work INCLUDING THE NATIONAL INSURANCE SCHEME.

Of interest to BU is the fact matters regarding theft at the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) was handed to the Director of Public Prosecutions since 2013 and remains outstanding – see page 127 of 177.

Issue 2
5.13 Goods ordered from a firm totalling Bds. $462,786.26 were paid for but not delivered. No due diligence was conducted on this firm which is based in the USA.

Authority’s Response, 2016:
This matter was passed on to the Director of Public Prosecution through the parent Ministry of Agriculture and witness statements were taken from relevant BWA managers in August 2013 by the Royal Barbados Police Force. However, nothing more has been heard from the Police on any further actions taken. So the matter is still outstanding.

What Fifty years of “Independence” is Barbados Really Celebrating?

Submitted by David Comissiong

After reading the damning revelations contained in Auditor General Leigh Trotman’s report about the outrageously preferential taxpayer-funded contracts granted to a coterie of elite white business-people by the Government Ministers of our country, I am forced to come to the conclusion that the “Old Colonial System” is still very much alive and well in supposedly independent Barbados!

Similarly, after digesting Mr. Mark Maloney’s defiant assertion that his Rock Hard Cement company will be (and is) forging ahead with its construction at Spring Garden highway in spite of the fact that some six months ago the Chief Town Planner had served the company with an order to cease construction, I am compelled to recognize that the same old colonial power elite continues to exist and to call the shots in our supposedly independent country!

Clearly, some 50 years after we hauled down the British “union jack” flag, Barbados’ primary purpose as a society still continues to be the colonial-style facilitation of a lifestyle of opulence and comfort for a privileged few at the expense and on the backs of the masses of ordinary Barbadians !

Take, for example, the case of one Bizzy Williams, who, when asked to comment on the fact that Government’s imposition of a “tipping fee” for refuse delivered to the landfill had brought about a substantial reduction in the garbage processed by his Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre Inc. (SBRC), boasted that whether his company processed the garbage or not, it still had to be paid by our Government.

Bizzy Williams’ exact words (as reported in the Nation Newspaper of 3rd May 2016) were as follows:-

Financially, though, it is not hurting us. It does not make a bit of a difference to us because we have signed on a contract with the Government that we have to provide the facility to process 1,000 tons a day minimum. So whether the material comes or it does not come, that is what we signed on to.

For those citizens and taxpayers who may not be aware, let me bring  the following to your attention: in June 2009, the current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Administration entered into a so-called “Take or Pay Contract” with Mr. Bizzy Williams’ Sustainable (Barbados) Recycling Centre Inc. (SBRC), and under that contract, we, the taxpayers of Barbados, are obliged to underwrite a guaranteed minimum payment of $22.6 Million per year to SBRC over a 20 year period for the processing of solid waste, whether or not the company is actually called upon to carry out work of the requisite minimum quantity!

Thus, under this contract alone, we Barbadian taxpayers are saddled with a “minimum” payment of some $452 Million dollars to Bizzy Willliams’ SBRC over a 20 year period!

But this is not the only such Government contract that the several companies associated with Mr. Bizzy Williams enjoy !

Under the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration of Mr. Owen Arthur, another Bizzy Williams associated company known as Ionics Freshwater Ltd was granted a contract by virtue of  which they were mandated by our Barbados Government to construct a desalination facility at Spring Garden, St. Michael; to operate and maintain the facility; and to be paid for  supplying  the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) with a minimum of 27,000 cubic metres of desalinated water every day over a 15 year period.

When, however, several years later, the Auditor General’s department carried out a special investigation into the workings of this outrageously preferential contract, they discovered that:-

  1. The BWA had agreed to pay a price for the desalinated water that was substantially higher than was merited ;
  2. The BWA had contracted to secure more water per day than it had the capacity to receive, and therefore had to pay the company – on an ongoing basis – for work that the company did not have to do; and
  3. The BWA had entered into a contract that virtually guaranteed the company a massive 18 per cent return on its investment !

So here again, we Barbadian taxpayers ended up underwriting tremendous benefits for a private company– benefits that were contractually affixed for an extensive fifteen year period !

The sad truth is that successive BLP and DLP administrations have placed our nation in a deep financial hole by entering into unjustified, outrageously privileged contracts that oblige us – the citizens and taxpayers of Barbados – to make annual payments of hundred of millions of dollars for decades into the future.

Let us look at another example! There is the April 2013 so-called storage tank lease contract entered into by our Government with the Mark Maloney and Bjorn Bjerkham owned and/or managed company known as Storage Solutions Limited.

Under this contract, our Government-owned (and taxpayer-funded) Barbados Agricultural Management Co. Ltd (BAMC) is obligated to pay Storage Solutions Limited the sum of $2, 150,000.00 plus VAT every year for 20 years for the privilege of using three molasses storage tanks at the Bridgetown Port. Thus, under this contract, our Government (and ultimately the taxpayers of Barbados) are saddled with a payment of some $50 million over the 20 year period!

Yet another such contract is the so-called housing construction contract entered into between this current DLP administration and the corporate entity known as Housing Concepts SRL – also owned and/or managed by the said Mark Maloney and Bjorn Bjerkham.

Under this contract, Housing Concepts SRL was leased a massive parcel of Government land at Coverley, Christ Church at a pepper-corn rent for the purpose of constructing houses for sale to the Barbadian people at prices ranging between $289,000.00 and $396,000.00!

But what makes this contract truly remarkable is that our taxpayer-funded Government has entered into a legally binding contractual obligation to purchase from Housing Concepts SRL any house that the company is unable to sell to members of the public! Thus, once again, we taxpayers are left holding the bag!

There is also the outrageously privileged contract that the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) entered into with Innotech Services Ltd for the design, financing and construction of the new BWA headquarters, and the lease of the premises to the BWA for 13 years. Our Auditor General, Mr. Leigh Trotman, recently detailed so many deficiencies with this outrageously preferential contract that we would require a separate article to list and discuss them!

And – truth be told – I could go on and on listing many other similarly outrageously preferential contracts that our compliant political directorate has conferred on a small group of elite white Barbadian business-people. It is no wonder therefore that our country now possesses a national debt that is as large as our entire Gross National Product!

Face the truth Bajans : the “Old Colonial System” is alive and well in our country, and will continue to remain alive and well so long as you continue to elect hollow, pride-less, self serving men and women to the House of Assembly and ultimately to ministerial and prime ministerial office!

And so our first order of business must be to vote out the self-serving charlatans ! But that alone will not be enough. We will also have to go on  to reform the Constitution  of our nation in order to establish structures and  mechanisms that we – the people – can use to hold our MP’s and Ministers accountable in the future.

Are you prepared to take on this crucial battle, or are you content to continue to be used and exploited for the benefit of a privileged few?