Appalled at apparent lack of response
Soon after I was elected to our Parliament in 1984, the Auditor-General, Larry Dennis, presented his Auditor's Report. I was astonished that the report was two years late. So, in one of my first speeches, I suggested that the Auditor-General should be fired.
This did put the cat among the pigeons, for I immediately received a three-page letter from Mr Dennis.
In his letter, he pointed out two main issues in his defence:
1, He was grossly understaffed owing to lack of funding for his department.
2, There was almost a complete lack of co-operation from the various ministries who were negligent in getting their accounts in order and forwarding them to him.
Armed with the Auditor-General's report, I made an appointment with the Premier, John Swan.
His response was very positive and we went over to the Auditor-General's department to see for ourselves.
The result was that the Premier seconded, I think, about four or five accountants from the private sector to be attached to that department to do “catch-up”. This they accomplished.
I believe additional staff was added to the department.
As I recall, there was no “blatant disregard” for financial controls, just lack of efficient accounting systems and the urgency of forwarding their accounts on to the Accountant-General.
I found Mr Dennis absolutely fearless, as is our present Auditor-General, Heather Jacobs Matthews. They both exemplify the standard and integrity that office requires. They are not attached in any way with a political party.
I write this in response to the reports that are coming from the present Auditor-General.
These reports are showing alleged corruption in high places, during specifically the three years up to March 12, 2012.
There have also been some very interesting comments from your opinion writers, John Barritt and Al Seymour. Our Government should also be listening to them.
My main question remains, is our Government really listening? At present, I am appalled at the apparent lack of response from the Government to the Auditor-General. I say apparent for we do not know what is going on behind the scenes.
The problem will not go away and must be tackled as fearlessly as has been presented by Mrs Jacobs Matthews. I believe our Governor has a responsibility in this situation and should be meeting with our Premier so that the people of our country get a satisfactory response to their concerns.
Perhaps the way to tackle the situation is to have a completely independent board of inquiry to do the investigation and present its report.
This should not give anyone an excuse for delay. This, I believe, is one of the most urgent matters to come before this country and no time should be wasted.
The people of this country deserve good governance. This appears to have been lacking during those three years the Auditor-General has reported on so far.
• Clarence “Tessie” Terceira, a founding member of the United Bermuda Party, was an MP for Pembroke West from 1985 to 1998