Tancoo renews call for gov’t to lay 2023 Public Accounts of TT and Auditor General’s Report

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Tancoo renews call for gov’t to lay 2023 Public Accounts of TT and Auditor General’s Report

The Opposition’s shadow Minister of Finance and MP for Oropouche West, Davendranath Tancoo has describes the Finance Minister’s hastily convened press conference on Tuesday as a farce and a sad attempt to distract from the truth and the Government’s unwarranted attack on the Auditor General.

In a release yesterday, Tancoo said the Finance Minister announced the appointment of a team and its terms of reference, no doubt in response to his revelation on Sunday that despite repeated promises, no investigation team had been named and no terms of reference identified.

Tancoo however pointed out, “it should be noted that this team was appointed by Minister Imbert, to investigate a matter that he as Minister of Finance has responsibility for, and finally to report to him as Minister of Finance. This must be a new low even for the PNM, for Colm Imbert to brazenly say this to the media and the country with a straight face. It is no wonder that there was a noticeable hesitance by the media when Imbert asked if they had questions.”

The Oropouche West MP cites as “errant nonsense” the utterances by the Finance Minister yesterday, as Colm Imbert continued with his misdirection and manipulation of the facts. In the first instance, the Minister said that it was not him but the Treasury that submits the documents to the Auditor General. According to Imbert, he did not want to “personalize” the issue, yet, this is the same Minister, aided and abetted by the Attorney General that launched a personal attack on the person of Ms. Jaiwantie Ramdass in both houses of parliament. He has already personalized the issue.

“Why was an investigation not launched before he made public statements about the integrity and professionalism of Ms. Ramdass? So, on what basis did he and his Attorney General attack Ms. Ramdass?”

“This whole investigation is a witch-hunt against the independent Auditor General, upon whom they have already publicly pronounced guilt!”

Tancoo said: “The inclusion of I.T. professionals and cheque-clearing problems as part of the terms of reference have nothing to do with the facts raised by the Auditor General. That is, the Ministry of Finance did not provide justification for the additional revenue of $3.4 billion they were claiming, which they later changed twice to eventually end at $2.6 billion. That has absolutely nothing to do with the Auditor General and is a separate matter between the supplier of the hardware and software and the Government/Central Bank.”

The Oropouche West MP also noted that, “Imbert managed to blame the Leader of the Opposition for highlighting that the Ministry of Finance failed to provide supporting documents to justify expenditure. But that is a fact which he admitted even in the press conference, going so far as trying to explain what “could” have been missing.”

Tancoo said, “in an even more shameless act of desperation, Imbert sought to adopt a policy of concern claiming that the Leader of the Opposition had no respect for the Parliament, when it was the very PNM Minister of Finance and the Attorney General who hid under cover of parliamentary privilege to attack an independent office holder in the most disgusting manner. However, were it not for the Hon. Opposition Leader, the entire country would be none the wiser about this PNM Government’s underhanded attempts to intimidate and subvert the Office of the Auditor General.”
The Opposition Member for Oropouche West reminds, “imagine Imbert said that “every single cent that was spent by the Ministry of Finance can be accounted for,” and yet when called upon to do so by the Auditor General, no such information was forthcoming. Imbert’s comments do not line up with the facts.”

MP Tancoo believes that this is yet another investigation just like all the others before it: the TSTT data breach, the Mosquito crack, the Tobago Oil Spill etc. that will yield no results and provide no justice to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Opposition MP calls on the Minister of Finance to cease his unending attempts at misdirection and his puerile political attacks against public office holders who serve the citizens of T&T with integrity and dedication.

Finally, MP Tancoo renews his call for the Government to forthwith lay the 2023 Public Accounts of T&T and the Auditor General’s Report on the Public Accounts as dutifully submitted to the Parliament by the Auditor General.