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Swan calls for Premier to hold accountable those who waste taxpayers’ money

Former Opposition leader Kim Swan is urging Premier Paula Cox to ‘walk the walk’ and hold Government officers responsible for breaching Financial Instructions and allowing taxpayers’ money to be wasted. The Premier has taken credit for bringing in new procurement measures since replacing Ewart Brown in the top job, St George’s MP Mr Swan said yesterday. However, he called for Ms Cox to use the laws which have always been available to her to punish those who break Financial Instructions rules. Auditor General Heather Matthews has said she believes nobody has the fortitude to take action against those who allegedly allowed money to go to waste in the Brown administration. Supreme Court has heard how leading civil servant Marc Telemaque directed public funds be given to Faith-Based Tourism boss Andre Curtis, Dr Brown’s political campaign manager, before a contract had been signed. Ms Matthews has condemned a lack of oversight in Mr Telemaque and Dr Brown’s Tourism and Transport Ministry as the TCD project costs soared from $5.3 million to $15.2 million. That contract was given to a company partly owned by Dr Brown’s close friend Dennis Correia without being put out to tender. Ms Cox has the power to make retrospective surcharges under the Public Treasury (Administration and Payments) Act 1969, according to Ms Matthews. Mr Swan, who was elected as a United Bermuda Party MP, said in a statement yesterday: “The Premier and Finance Minister is the gatekeeper for the people’s money. “Millions of dollars have been wasted and it is the ultimate responsibility of the Finance Minister to protect the public purse. “Whilst the Premier was complimented for piloting procurement measures last year, those of us who worked in the Government sector know that Financial Instructions already had safeguards which only needed to be followed. “The Premier needs to do the right thing and act resolutely against persons who have abused the public purse. “The time is now to walk the walk, hold those persons accountable who have run roughshod over Financial Instructions and wasted taxpayers’ money. “This will act as a warning to those who are getting away with wrongdoing and act as a deterrent for anyone tempted to violate Financial Instructions in the future. “Every wasted dollar is money that impacts on the people of Bermuda. The Premier and Finance Minister is entrusted to act on behalf of the people of Bermuda. Failure to do so makes the entire Government culpable.” When the Premier was questioned on this subject last week, her Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott pointed to a “process of confidentiality in the disciplinary process”. The One Bermuda Alliance argues that nowhere does the Public Treasury (Administration and Payments) Act state that surcharges or other penalties must be conducted in secret.

Kim Swan MP