Premier and Finance Minister Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith [left] and Hon. Julian Fraser, Opposition Leader
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Quick on his feet, Opposition Member, Hon. Julian Fraser challenged the tabling of two documents by Premier Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith in the House of Assembly, yesterday, April 18, noting that the specific documents must be accompanied by other relevant reports.
Premier Smith was at the time attempting to table two reports from the Auditor General, for the years ending December 31, 2010 and 2011.
According to Hon. Fraser, it is procedure for the specific documents to be submitted along with reports from the Accountant General and the Financial Secretary.
“I am puzzled as to the document being laid on the table being the Auditor General’s report, which could only have been prepared in the presence of the Treasury’s report.”
He continued, “And why is it the Premier hasn’t seen fit to table those reports at the same time. And also, where is the Financial Secretary’s report that goes along with the document from the Treasury.”
In response, Premier Smith noted that the reports laid in the House are those that are available, adding that he has not seen a report from the Financial Secretary nor the Accountant General.
It was at this point the former opposition leader exclaimed, “It doesn’t add up!”
Hon. Fraser said, “It is impossible for the Auditor General to have a proper report, an accurate report, in the absence of the treasury report, and until those two reports are synchronized and there is a concurrence between the two offices, it’s useless bringing these, especially the Auditor General’s report.”
He added, “And the Financial Secretary does in fact prepare a report which should come to the House of Assembly at same time of this report. So I hasten to add that I believe in my mind that if those two reports have to be amended or changed, since this report was prepared, then this report will have to be withdrawn.”
On the same note, Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Andrew Fahie expressed his surprise with the Premier's comments, noting that he himself has received the missing reports in the capacity of Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
“Because being the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, I am surprised to hear that the Premier has not received the Accountant General’s report from the Treasury. We in the Public Accounts Committee have received those, but cannot debate them because they have not been laid in the House.”
Hon. Fahie said, “To lay the Auditor General’s report in the absence of these documents, leaves one to wonder if anything is being changed in these documents now this is being laid. The completed documents have to be given to this Honourable House in unison. The Auditor General’s report, the Accountant General’s report and the Financial Secretary's report…I don’t understand why they are not in the Minister of Finance’s hands.”
In an explanation of the missing reports, Premier Smith stated that for the years in question, a Treasury report and a report from the Financial Secretary was not completed.
“The report for the Auditor General is for the year ended 31st December 2010. The financial statements are prepared by the Accountant General and submitted to the Auditor General, and on that the budget is audited. When all of it is complete, at the end of the report, the Accountant General’s report is put together, which is then laid in the House. That report was not done by the Accountant General in 2010.”
He added, “After that report is done, then the Financial Secretary will use those reports and write comments. Without those reports, that was not done either. The same applies to the Auditor General's report ending 31 December 2011.”
This caused Hon. Fraser to rise to his feet once more, at which point he stated that what the Premier said is not true.
“That’s not correct. What the Premier is saying cannot be true; the reports were laid.”
Hon. Fraser then noted that he has seen the documents before, adding that they do exist.
“Impossible for the Auditor General to prepare a report and have it finished if she did not have a report from the Treasury.”
The documents were later tabled.