Column: ‘Auditor’s Report, What Will We Learn?’

December 7, 2015

[Opinion column written by Jeremy Deacon]

We have now had two [more] damning reports by the Auditor General on the handling of public funds. I have deliberately highlighted the word public – and will come back to that.

The two most recent reports [and those before them] paint a picture where it seems that those in authority simply did not care about spending – it was a ‘splash the cash’ attitude, ‘don’t worry, there’s always more where that came from’.

Jeremy Deacon Bermuda Dec 7 2015

They paint of picture of a complete dereliction of duty – to the Government and its Financial Instructions and to the public. They paint a picture of arrogance mixed with ineptitude.

We’ve been to school and we’ve sat through history lessons that seemed interminable and irrelevant – why do I care how many wives Henry VIII had? But by examining history – even our personal history – we learn lessons, we see where things have gone wrong and as a result we are able to make the necessary fixes.

So what will history make of the Auditor General’s report? Well, it will record that the Auditor General reported some astonishing findings and that nothing was done about them. It will not, sadly, record that people were actually held to account.

In a podcast interview on Bernews, the Premier, Michael Dunkley, says that he has no appetite for a witch hunt into past administrations. I pushed him on that and said it was not a witch hunt, it was an investigation.

When you see charity after charity saying they are threatened with closure, when we see a youth unemployment rate of 23 percent, when we see the austerity measures being put in place by Government; when we see an increased demand for financial help for such basic things as school uniforms, we should be asking questions into why and how many millions of dollars was misspent.

So if the Premier will not do it, will the Governor? There will be predictable protestations about the Governor getting involved, but if there is nothing to fear, there is nothing to protest, right?

If neither the Governor nor the Premier will do it, the people should demand it. It is your money, it is the public’s money and you have a right to know where your hard-earned dollars went.

MPs serve their constituents – you – and if they do not listen they should be damned to exist in political purgatory.

At least let history record that even if those in authority do not possess the testicular fortitude to do anything, the public did.

Jeremy Deacon is a 30-year veteran of the media industry in Bermuda and the UK. He runs award-winning public relations company, Deep Blue Communications, and also engages in freelance journalism for publications in Bermuda and overseas. He is also the Executive Officer of the Media Council of Bermuda.

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Comments (23)

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  1. Triangle Drifter says:

    If the people responsible for the missing millions are not held accountable nothing will be learned. It will be business as usual for them & for those coming up through the civil service behind them.

    I don’t care if Casemates has to be reopened to accomodate these people. Seize their ill-gotten assets & lock them away.

    • Betty Boop says:

      Exactly right. I just wanted to say that I think we are to blame for this, yes, us. We should have stood up and demanded that they were taken to task, we all knew that this money was being spent, but we didnlt stand up! We have to. I demand that these Civil Servants be made to PAY BACK THE MONEY. Let’s fight for this people.

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        It would be naive to lay this entirely on the civil service, especially in light of the amount of ministerial interference the previous administration was known for.

    • planeasday says:

      Speaking of ill gotten assets, just how far back should we then prosecute the “beneficiaries of ill gotten assets’ Mr. Drifter?

      If that is the case shall we start our investigations at roughly the year 1620?

  2. paperboy says:

    Thank you Jeremy – keep this inquisitive conversation alive until we understand how our current system creates these situations. You are joined by some very reputable individuals like John Barritt who clearly understands the complexity of the existing structures that enable this abusive behaviour and the simplicity of a solution.

    John Barritt has integrity and a solid moral compass. Is that why he was treated so unfairly by the current OBA leaders? He is the type of man who would pursue these changes and clean our political house. We need that now and consistently going forward.

    Invite Mr. Barritt back in the House Bermuda!

  3. hmmm says:

    The PEOPLE will not vote the PLP back in in 2017. that’s how we can hold them accountable.

    To be fair the OBA picked up a situation where the GOVT was going to run out of money part way through 2013 and had to act fast. The OBA have been working to turn the country around despite the distraction and noise from the PLP and their minion groups.

  4. Lois Frederick says:

    Don’t give up hope. Remember who both the Auditor General and Director of Public Prosecutions answers to and no one else – His Excellency the Governor.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      The Governor cannot wipe his nose without consulting the Premier first.

  5. Comfortably numb says:

    Not holding my breath waiting for the OBA to institute any investigation into the colossal over spends. However, he who enjoys the view from the pavilion might be able to explain 10% of the overspend………

    • serengeti says:

      How exactly is the OBA supposed to do this? They don’t have control over what criminal matters are pursued and which ones aren’t.

  6. clearasmud says:

    I agree with you Jeremy that nothing will be done but I also have sympathy for the Premiers position. This report is horrendous that is for sure but why are all these reports so late? I read where Tessie Terceira said that in 1984 he faced similar problems of late reports but what is going wrong in the AG office today? Perhaps if the report was done sooner the problems could have been addressed and we could have avoided the mess in 2010, 11 and 12! Perhaps its time for Government House to get involved so that the new AG has all the resources she needs to get these reports out in a timely manner!

  7. aceboy says:

    This is a job for the police, not the OBA.

    The PAC should be requesting the police to conduct a full investigation on all of the shenanigans. Instead of that we see the Chairman droning on about the Airport deal and then telling us we got “value for money” out of Port Royal (for example).

    Disgusting.

  8. Hear O People of Bermuda, ” Don’t worry you’re pretty little heads over this matter. The Civil Service runs the country, and have had their own way for quite sometime. They are too strong for either party to control them .Additionally, incompetence is not a crime in Bermuda. And the last I heard, the Governor is packing his bags and getting out of here .” I guess he is leaving the problem for us to fix. SMILE. Have a beautiful day.

    • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

      You’re half right Rodney…If the civil service is running this country as you say…trust me they are being allowed to by…guess who?

  9. Puzzling as to why the OBA would not investigate as there appears to be more then enough evidence or at least suspicion to warrant one.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Because the OBA are not the judiciary, they are they legislature. No government should not be involved in directing of judiciary investigations, this shouldn’t even be a matter before the PAC, these matters should be looked into by the police.

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        Should read ‘No government should be involved…’

        • Either way your comment makes absolutely no sense and is an indication you have absolutely no idea how things work in this country. The government must be involved as it was the government which squandered so much of Bermuda’s money through gross incompetence.

          • serengeti says:

            So who do you think investigates crimes and handles criminal prosecutions:
            (a) the Police and the DPP, or
            (b) the Premier?

      • clearasmud says:

        You are only half right because the police cannot get involved unless the AG finds direct evidence of criminal activity and refers the matter to them. To date we have only heard allegations that people were not following the rules which is not automatically a crime. I think that the best way forward would be for the Government to ask the Governor for a commission of inquiry to determine if there was any criminal activity involved.

    • James Rego says:

      LM. If the Police received information that you or I stole or embezzled money, you can bet your bottom dollar they would be knocking on our doors. Why aren’t they doing something here? It is a Police matter!

  10. Cow Polly says:

    Time for some forensic auditors/accountants to pay us a visit from Scotland Yard. Bet they could undercover the trail.

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