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AG report highlights ‘why we’re in a hole’

A damning report by the Auditor-General underlines the origins of Bermuda's financial woes, according to the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance.

Bob Richards said the public had “every right to be upset” after the revelations contained in Heather Jacobs Matthews's report, which documents the results of audits of the Consolidated Fund for the years ending March 31 2010, 2011 and 2012, when the Progressive Labour Party was in power.

Among the misdeeds listed in the 315-page document are instances of overpayments, double payments, millions paid for professional services without prior approval, failure to comply with financial instructions and millions paid without signed contracts or agreements.

“The Government's long-term debt as at March 31, 2012, ($1.1 billion) has almost quadrupled what it was four years ago and resulted in annual interest costs of about $71 million for the year ended March 31, 2012,” the document states.

When contacted by The Royal Gazette, Mr Richards said: “The report speaks for itself. It's good to have it revealed to the public, because the Auditor-General has credibility.

“It's certainly a very, very low performance insofar as the Government is concerned, and it speaks to the reason why we're in the hole we're in financially.”

While claiming to be unsurprised by the findings detailed within, Mr Richards added: “It's the public's money, and we're just trying to do the best we can to look after it as though it were our own.

“We've had to be much more disciplined as far as spending is concerned, and to try to rein the beast in. We're having some success in doing that.”

David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, was unavailable for comment.

With Mrs Matthews retiring from her position as Auditor-General next year, it was announced yesterday that Bermudian native Heather Thomas would be stepping into the role in May 2016.

• The report is available online at www.oagbermuda.bm

Speaking out: Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, said he was unsurprised by the Auditor-General's report (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published November 17, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated November 17, 2015 at 1:45 am)

AG report highlights ‘why we’re in a hole’

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