"President George Maxwell Richards has issued a call for the Auditor General's Department to be vigilant in guarding the nation's Treasury and demand accountability with respect to protecting the public purse.In the said article, it is also reported that President Richards made these strong statements at dinner to celebrate the 85th anniversary of local funding for the Auditor General Department (AGD), at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain on Saturday. At the dinner, he further admonished the AGD by pointing out that:
"When we observe the developing of newly emerging countries...it is evident that without the necessary checks and balances, room is created for chaos in many spheres, sometimes leading to anarchy," said Richards." (Trinidad Express, March 31, 2008.)
"You cannot remit your effort in this regard and cannot be excused if you do,"
"...oil and gas and an endless supply of financial resources are not guaranteed to...Trinidad and Tobago and the nation's purse must be scrutinised with a close and watchful eye."
"...the framers of the Constitution ensured that the Office of the Auditor General was an independent body to ensure transparency and accountability in public spending."
"...in the matter of public finances, "One might say especially in this area, vigilance must be maintained at all times,"
"The human condition is such that in spite of the best intention...spontaneous observance to do what is right cannot be relied on,"
From the above, the President surmised that:
"...in defence of the common good, the office of the Auditor General has the right to demand accountability with respect to protecting the public's purse."
All well and good, so far. Then, donning an economist's hat, President Richards pointed out that:
"...the value of money was subject to change and a country's economy can be affected by the international financial market."
Quickly doffing that headgear, he let them know that:
"...such was "all the more reason why (theAGD) must continue to be good stewards (sic) and guardians of the treasury,"
He did add that that was something impossible for it to do, unless:
"...the staff of the Auditor General's department are properly and adequately trained to have a "keen eye" and fulfil their task with impartiality."
since, in his view:
"...the department would be left behind in terms of education if its members did not keep abreast of (sic) regional and international developments in the auditing functions."
The article concluded with this reminder from President Richards to the Auditor General Department:
"Yours is an awesome responsibility, one that can be fulfilled with scrupulous exactitude,"
I took the pains to go almost verbatim with the entire newspaper report, because I needed, here, to make a clear case in support of my choice of caption for this missive.
Why did I choose that caption? Well! Apart from the many other glaring reasons (for instance: nobody knows how is being spent by many State Enterprises, such as UDECOTT, UTT because the Auditor-General is yet to report...maybe no financials were ever done by these companies?), I shall, here, single out just two, seeing as they are most relevant for the purpose at hand:
- Nobody knows (meaning, "I don't know, do you?") what it cost to crown him Prince! (I'm referring to Prime Minister Patrick Manning's "inauguration" at Woodford Square, Port of Spain, on November 7th 2007), nor the name of the person who authorized it, nor the names of the persons who profitted, financialy, from it; and,
- Nobody knows (meaning, "I don't know, do you?") what it cost to crown him King! (I'm referring to President Maxwell Richards's "inauguration" ceremony at the Hasley Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain, on March 17, 2008), nor the name of the person who authorized it, nor the names of the persons who profitted, financialy, from it.