Given the cold shoulder by Government House
“You cannot subsidise irresponsibility and expect people to become more responsible” — Thomas Sowell
On March 29, I wrote my third letter over a period of five years to Government House, this one being sent to our present governor, Her Excellency Rena Lalgie. The subject matter was the same as the previous two letters: the urgent need for greater accountability in and reform of the management of the administrative arm of the Government — the Civil Service.
My letter included a lengthy history of the serious deficiencies of government administration as identified by decades of Auditor-General reports and the Sage Report of 2013 — deficiencies that continue to this day. On June 14, I received a reply from a member of the Governor’s office who responded on her behalf.
The reply consisted of three sentences:
1, Acknowledging receipt of my letter and concerns
2, A reference to the implementation of the 2013 Sage Report recommendations
3, Confirming that efforts to improve accountability have been made, but “any further change to the reconstitution of the Public Service Commission would require change to legislation”
My request for an audience with Her Excellency was ignored and it was clear that there would not be any further communications forthcoming on this subject.
Needless to say, I was very disappointed with what appeared to be an absence of real concern for the ongoing issues of ignoring financial instructions and the lack of consequences for some members of the Civil Service. Holding people accountable for their actions does not require a change in legislation; it requires honest, effective leadership and enforcement of existing rules and financial procedures.
We have been informed by the Auditor-General that many of her recommendations for improvement have not been implemented and that lack of leadership is cited as the No 1 reason. It is therefore quite disheartening to see that not even our governor, who oversees the Public Service Commission — the management body of the Civil Service — expressed any level of urgency in addressing the poor performance of some employees in senior leadership positions who oversee our public purse expenditures.
So I have come to the conclusion that by their continued complacency in this matter, the sitting government, the Opposition and the Governor have very little respect for the taxpayer, whose shrinking, hard-earned dollars continue to be managed like they are just “play money” in a game of Monopoly Junior.
Let us all be reminded of how the Bermuda Monetary Authority responds when a member of the financial services sector runs afoul of its rules. It was recently reported that the BMA has levied a fine of about $900,000 on a Bermuda long-term insurer in the non-US private placement life insurance market.
The BMA said that these civil penalties have been levied on the company for failure to adequately comply with certain obligations imposed on it under the Proceeds of Crime (Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2008. The company did not adequately comply with the requirements of the existing regulations. In the real world, there are consequences for one’s actions.