The Government vs Auditor General Jaiwantie Ramdass

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The Government vs Auditor General Jaiwantie Ramdass

A Government motion to extend the time to present information to the Auditor General Jaiwantie Ramdass was passed in the House of Representatives on Friday night, after Ramdass allegedly refused to accept information seeking to correct a $2.6 billion understatement of T&T’s revenue for 2023.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the error resulted from a new electronic cheque clearing system which was not implemented properly by all concerned. Imbert said public servants came to him in embarrassment, as they felt it would be improper for revenue to be understated by $2.6B.

The Attorney General Reginald Amour SC has described the development as ‘bizarre’, where numerous approaches by Finance Ministry and Treasury officials to the Auditor General were rejected. The Ag in the HOR said: “a very bizarre situation arising from the fact that the Auditor General has refused in flagrant contravention of her statutory and constitutional responsibility under the Constitution and Exchequer Act to accept the correct material from the Finance Ministry’s Treasury Division as part of her audit .”

Armour said the error was discovered in February and Treasury, Inland Revenue and Budget Division officials did investigations. He maintained the accounts were submitted on time and later corrected.

Government previously sent the Auditor General a pre-action protocol letter but that also failed and the Auditor General published T&T’s accounts for 2023 minus the corrected figures,  prompting Government’s motion.

The motion, in Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s name, stated that it was necessary, in respect of the financial accounts for 2023, that the period of time specified under Sections 24 and 25 of the Audit and Exchequer Act (69:01) be extended. These pertain to the periods when the Treasury must send the Auditor General accounts and was passed at 8.45 pm Friday, by 19 Government votes to 14 Opposition votes.