Premier Paula Cox Comments On PAC Report

July 23, 2012

In taking note of the Public Accounts Committee [PAC] report tabled Friday July 20th, 2012 by the Standing Committee on the Public Accounts, the Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox stated, “I acknowledge the work of the Public Accounts Committee in addressing items of concern relating to the Department of Tourism [BDOT] and operations and governance of the Bermuda Land Development Company [BLDC] during 2010.

“The Public Accounts Committee provides an important form of external oversight over the financial affairs of the Government. Unfortunately, there is usually a significant time delay between the events reported in PAC Reports, and the actual tabling of these reports.

“While media reporting of the PAC Report conveys that these issues have just occurred, this is not the case. For example, the events being reported on in this particular report, the provision of tourism advertising by the Bermuda Department of Tourism (BDOT) and operations and governance of the Bermuda Land Development Company, occurred in 2008 and 2010 respectively. Accordingly more than four and two years have lapsed since these events actually occurred.

“The reality is that very often Government officials or boards of public sector entities – who have the fiduciary responsibility for their own accounts – have taken action already to address apparent weaknesses or to make enhancements to financial systems and controls. Therefore it is important to note the changes and corrective steps taken to address any deficiencies noted in the recent PAC Report.”

“Issues relating to the provision of tourism advertising by the Department of Tourism [BDOT] were reported on in the Auditor General’s Special Report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008. Since this time the Department of Tourism has reviewed the initial Report of the Public Accounts Committee on this matter and have submitted their replies to the Ministry of Finance, which were included in the Minister of Finance’s formal response to this PAC Report. This report was tabled in the Legislature in 2010.

“Since this time, much has been done to significantly enhance procurement across the Public Sector. The Office of Project Management and Procurement [OPMP] was established in 2011 to act as the Government’s centre of excellence for procurement and project management related matters. From the appointment of the Interim Director in June 2011, the office has undergone a complete restructure, designed to become the Governments center of excellence for all project and procurement related matters.

“To ensure transparency, consistency and objectivity in the tendering process all contract awards must be vetted and signed-off by the OPMP before proceeding to Cabinet. Due to this transformation in procurement I can confirm that the provision of all tourism advertising by the Department of Tourism [BDOT] have been procured in line with the standards required by the OPMP and Financial Instructions.

“It should also be noted that the draft Financial Instructions and Procurement Code of Practice regulations which include relevant elements of the Good Governance Act 2012 are nearing completion and will be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Chambers for drafting and Gazetting.

“Training and briefing of all public authorities and accounting officers will commence once the regulations have gazetted. Interested vendors will also have the opportunity to attend workshops to explain the Procurement Code of Practice and related procedures.

“Finally, since the events contained in this PAC Report, the Government has amended the Employment Act 2000 to protect “whistle-blowers.” Accordingly, an employee may now disclose information concerning unlawful activity without the fear of being unfairly dismissal by their employer.

“The Government recognises that it is important to remind, Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments of their responsibility to exercise the highest standards of financial leadership within the organisation for which they are responsible. To this end in June 2012, the Cabinet Office sent an open letter to all civil servants reminding them that as public servants, they are the gatekeepers for good governance and the protection of public assets and that they may not allow anyone to force them, or to persuade them into an action that is contrary to law or best practice.

Premier Cox noted, “As previously advised, the PAC Report on the operations and governance of the Bermuda Land Development Company during 2010 follows on from actions that I took in my capacity as Minister of Finance when these same matters were brought to my attention in December 2010, more than a year ago.

“I commissioned the public accounting firm KPMG to conduct a review of BLDC governance and related party services and internal controls, and to make recommendations for improvements. The review included an examination of:

  • BLDC bye-laws and other governance polices;
  • Procurement policy that was in place in 2010 and the testing of 40 procurement files;
  • Payments made to Saunders Maintenance Ltd.;
  • Whether the payments were in compliance with relevant BLDC policies and leading practice;
  • The workings of the Contract and Tender Committee; and
  • Internal financial systems and related procedures.

“The findings and recommendations of the KPMG review were accepted by the Ministry of Finance. As a consequence, a Special Meeting of BLDC was convened in May 2011 where the old directors were replaced by a new Board of Directors. Also in May 2011, the responsibility for BLDC was moved from the then Minister of Public Works to the Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy.

“The outstanding items relating to BLDC were flagged for action an aggressive agenda for action and a new direction was committed to by the new Board.”

In closing Premier Cox said, “I wish to make it abundantly clear that I, as the Minister of Finance take this responsibility very serious and have undertaken a commitment to continually improve Public Financial Management across Government and to enhance our governance framework. I look forward to responding to the latest report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Public Accounts as soon as possible.”

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Comments (22)

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  1. Family Man says:

    Why is it that shortly after this lot sit down to feed at the trough, there’s an awful stench. They always promise to turn the fans on and blow the smell away yet somehow it just lingers ….

    Ahh well, its the smell of the new Bermuda. I can hear Paula now “Pass da Beans will you come sit next to me.”

  2. Sandgrownan says:


  3. Pastor Syl Hayward says:

    “the Government has amended the Employment Act 2000 to protect “whistle-blowers.” Accordingly, an employee may now disclose information concerning unlawful activity without the fear of being unfairly dismissal by their employer.”

    At least two people were unfairly dismissed by the previous Premier in his capacity as Minister of Tourism for whistle-blowing. One is really struggling at this time. I realise the Government is hurting financially, but it would be an act of kindness and fairness to extend a helping hand to that young woman whose life was ruined.

    • Swing voter #100 says:

      What and vote the UBP back in power. You have to be kidding me. I would have voted for the Bermuda Democratic Alliance BDA before they joined with the UBP. I can’t trust the UBP boys and they know this that’s why they changed their name.

      • Dantes Inferno says:

        Don’t sound much like a swing voter.

      • sandgrownan says:

        Out of interest, what don’t you trust specifically? I’ve heard this said before, normally by the mouthbreathers, but what specifically don’t you trust?

        By any measure the PLP have been a failure. Bermuda is failing under their guidance, we know they are unethical, couldn’t organize a piss up in a brewery, and if you saw Brian Hall’s letter in The Gazette, are full of bitterness and anger. We know they lie and cheat. We know they have destroyed the real estate market, we know they have made international business unwelcome. So, what don’t you trust about the “UBP Boys”? I’m genuinely curious.

        • @ Sandgrownan says:

          You appear to know so much about the PLP. Please tell me why should I trust a a party that was formed out of a false image just too win the peoples vote? I’m talking about the blacks on this island. If you’re going to say strategy, I accept that answer but then again why am I asking a question and giving you the answer?

          Keep it open and honest.

          • sandgrownan says:

            Not sure I understand this question, I was asking Swing Voter #100 about trust, or the lack thereof.

      • VHAT ! says:

        You “can’t trust the UBP” ? But you TRUST this lot? Are you kidding ?!!

      • More with less says:

        I find it very odd that you trust the PLP after all the crap that has come out post 2005 but you dont trust the party that managed to keep a balanced budget and a prosperous country and took in much less revenue than the PLP. Of course they werent perfect as no government ever is. Its really simple, if the OBA do a bad job, vote them out.

  4. Rockfish #2 says:

    Cox promised to respond as soon as possible, fair enough. However, she must also demote Burgess as soon as possible,and find someone who she can trust.
    Instead of looking foward, she spends too much time looking over her shoulder, keeping a eye on him and watching her back.
    Sad but true.

  5. Swing Voter says:

    Swing Voters not buying into the bull-shyte explainations….its time for swing voters to rise up and send a message

  6. Liars! says:

    Pathetic excuse for a Leader, this is Paula Cox at her best….congratulations Paula you have spent your way into the Twilight Zone but we are in the Bermuda Triangle, remember

  7. Goose says:

    No mention of recovering the funds or proceeding with a criminal investigation. Well played Madame Premier, you’ve just condoned every theft and illegal interferrence that has occured prior to your “checks and balances”.

  8. Accountable says:

    “and operations and governance of the Bermuda Land Development Company, occurred in 2008 and 2010 respectively. Accordingly more than four and two years have lapsed since these events actually occurred.” – Who was the Finance Minister when this happened?

  9. Family Man says:

    And where are the 2011 accounts so we can see how well you’ve managed the affairs since then Paula?

  10. pebblebeach says:

    Simply Cogwash…

  11. The nitty gritty says:

    The PAC certainly hit the Government hard today with these reports, all backing up what the Auditor General has already pointed out.
    Just a confirmation of what we already know.
    Swing Voters! Make a wise choice whatever it be cuz if not you will be left swinging…in the breeze.
    Whoever gets in will think they are being punished what with all the major fixin needed.
    No money to do it with, no money for the 800+ extra civil servants, no money for the students,
    none for the seniors, no overtime for Police or Prison Officers. This is gonna be a very exciting year.
    Wouldn’t wish it on the PLP.

  12. Baltic Fury says:

    Ah she speaks! And there’s me thinking she says absolutely nothing to appear smart. No Paula, you just don’t say much. Especially here, where you say absolutely nothing at all. YOUR TIME IS UP.

    PS, have you noticed how those defending this comedy government have dwindled in the last few months on here, apart from you Laverne, you don’t count – but really, do we believe in change, or are we screwed for another 4 years/forever?????

  13. countryman says:

    Here she goes again painting her pretty red lies, comin from her soft spoken red lips which will put us all in the red zone. politricks she good at it must have learned a lot over the last 10 years. Another four years of plp is a recipe for desaster.
    Some might say whats the option,I say puttin water into a leakin tank will alway keep it at same level EMPTY!!!

  14. old onion says:

    If pc.had any love and remorse for Bermuda she would resign!! …The woman has singlehandly ruin us financially with her poor and reskless bhav. with our hard-earned money which we give in good faith to run affairs,improve our island,and create wealth for all ‘onions’ and she is now giving her flybynight crap of fixing the rotten mess she got us into..When she leaves she should give us back all that money she got paid for doing NOTHING!!