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Make it make sense

Dear Sir,

The controversy over the solar panel project for the National Sports Centre seems to have dropped off the radar and the sports minister has assured us that nothing untoward has occurred with the contract, which was awarded to Atlantic Energy Solutions Group.

The AESG deal with the National Sport Centre slipped under the radar recently. But it shouldn’t

This contractor, when originally chosen in 2018 as the preferred bidder, confirmed they had funding arrangements in place. However, when the Government finally authorised the contract in May of this year, we learnt that the NSC itself has entered into a loan agreement with HSBC to finance this project because AESG no longer had funding.

The Government recently confirmed it is guaranteeing this loan. Ernest Peets, the sports minister, said “while the Government was backing the loan, it was not repaying the loan” and he said “a government grant to the NSC would help to cover the interest on the loan”. The minister said that the financing arrangements were vetted by the Ministry of Finance and supported by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

According to the Office of the Auditor-General’s website, the last audit of the financials for the NSC was completed in May 2021, for the year 2016. Yes, that’s 2016. So there are five years outstanding of audited accounts for this facility. We have just read the AG’s August 5, 2021 press release on the present abysmal state of the accounts for many government entities — including the NSC — and she emphasised that there is a real potential and likelihood of public corruption and fraud when audits are undertaken on accounts that are many years in arrears.

So can someone tell me why our government, specifically our finance minister, thinks it is prudent to guarantee the NSC’s $3.2 million HSBC loan, given that there are multiple years of NSC financial statements that have not yet been reviewed/signed off by the Auditor-General?

What am I missing here?

BEVERLEY CONNELL

Pembroke

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Published August 19, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated August 18, 2021 at 4:02 pm)

Make it make sense

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