As furore continues to swirl regarding the Community Development Ministry's yes-they-are, no-they-aren't scholarships, one nagging concern yet bothers me, even to the extent of my complete stumping. And, that is:
In a masterful piece ---What? It is a masterful piece!--- written and published in my blog on April 10th 2009 (Good Friday), I'd highlighted what unfettered power and solemn duty the AuGen had "annually to audit and publicly report on public expenditure matters". [See: The Voice of One Crying in The Wilderness at: http://kid5rivers.blogspot.com/2009/04/voice-of-one-crying-in-wilderness.html].
[At that time, the pot on the fire was smouldering with news that the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank had surreptitiously taken some TT$300 million of our, the people's money and given away to the bailing out of British-American Insurance operations in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union countries.]
For those who came in late and for those who, despite the incessantly-towering pile of damning evidence of corruption, mismanagement and downright malicious conduct of this present government administration, yet endorse it, the AuGen's office, in discharging its duties, is constitutionally-protected from interference by other public offices, as was pointed out in my Good Friday alarum:
We, the people, now seriously need to question whether the AuGen's office has been compromised, for, on reviewing the AuGen's Annual Reports for the years 2003 through 2007, nothing at all was in any of them mentioned of the disbursement of these Ministry of Community Development Scholarships! Nothing!
This despite, from mere layman, mere cursory inspection of the lists made public (big up to Devant Maharaj and ITEC!) it's clear that some of the recipients were of the obscenely well-heeled of Trinbago society! [See: http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,112054.html]
This despite, too, that several "recipients" have since gone public with news that they never received a cent from the Ministry! [See: http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,112054.html]
This despite, too, as the Community Development Minister herself admitting [and as the Toymaker first surmised] that several of the beneficiaries of the now-maligned scholarships are not ordinary, not law-abiding and not deserving citizens! [Is there another way to interpret what she said, as reported by the Trinidad Express at: http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_news?id=161566445?]
It is noteworthy that the AuGen's 2003 report does talk of another Ministry's lackadaisical attitude towards monies disbursed as scholarships, when, at page 167, of the Ministry of Sport and Culture's Sport and Culture Fund [established by Act No.31 of 1988] it mentions:
9.13 At paragraph 6.35 of the 2002 Auditor General’s Report it was stated that
“An amount of $418,710.35 was seen to be due from a beneficiary of the Fund who was granted a scholarship by the Fund but who did not serve the stipulated period as required by the contract. It was not determined what action was taken by the Fund to recover the amount due.” The situation remained the same at the time of audit.
The same report, too, had earlier ---pages 64 and 65--- rebuked the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for glaring shortcomings in its accounting practices, such as where some TT$28.8 million had been simply given over to an unnamed State Enterprise! But, as I said, not one peep about shenanigans at the Community Development Ministry.
So! The question remains: Regarding the disbursement of the Community Development Ministry's scholarships,