Port audit almost done

The value-for-money audit on the Port Authority’s Royal Watler Cruise Ship Terminal is nearly completed, Auditor General Dan Duguay confirmed Monday.

The Audit, which was planned for in the 2004/05 Budget tabled in Legislative Assembly in May 2004, was described in the Budget as: Port Authority – Tendering and Construction of George Town and West Bay Cruise Ship Terminals.

The project for the West Bay Cruise Ship Terminal has since been abandoned.

‘It’s pretty much finished,’ Mr. Duguay said of the audit. ‘It should be on my desk by the middle of this week.’

Once Mr. Duguay reads the audit, it will be sent to the Port Authority for its comments – if it wants to make any – on the audit’s findings.

‘The client is normally given a month to respond, but because of the holidays, we’ll probably give them a little longer, like until the end of January,’ Mr. Duguay said.

The Port Authority’s response will simply be added to the audit, as long as it’s factual and not too long, Mr. Duguay said.

Once the audit is returned by the Port Authority and its comments added, the report will be sent to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for presentation to the Public Accounts Committee. Member of the Legislative Assembly will also get copies of the report.

The Public Accounts Committee conducts its own investigations into the findings of the report before it is tabled in the Legislative Assembly. As a result, some Auditor General reports in the past have taken years to become public.

This year, two Auditor General reports requested by former Governor Bruce Dinwiddy on the Affordable Housing Initiative were made public right away. Two others, one on Hurricane Ivan debris removal contract and another one on the Affordable Housing Initiative were leaked to the media before the Public Accounts Committee conducted its investigation.

Mr. Duguay has not made it a secret he would like to see the reports made public in a timely fashion.

MLA Osbourne Bodden, who is chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, agrees with Mr. Duguay.

‘It’s a big concern, and we’re going to make an effort to change it,’ he said. ‘I went to a regional conference in October with the Auditor General, and it’s the one area where we are lagging.

‘Everyone else tables the Auditor General’s report right away, while we have this protracted method with the PAC.’

Mr. Bodden said the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly would have to be amended in order to change the process.

While such an amendment would not be difficult, and Mr. Bodden believes there is wide support for the change in Government, he said he was not sure it could be done in time to alter the method in which the Port Authority audit is dealt with.

‘But we can expedite it from the PAC point of view, and bring it forward on the agenda,’ he said.

Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush would like to see the process changed, too.

‘My feeling is that as soon as the relative body has a chance to comment, so that the public gets both sides, the audit should be made public,’ he said.

Mr. Bush, who was Chairman of the Port Authority during the time in which this latest report covers, said he was glad to hear the audit was almost complete.

‘I’m glad that it’s coming to an end so we can all know,’ he said.

Although he is no longer the Chairman of the Port Authority and therefore cannot be involved in the Authority’s response to the audit’s findings, Mr. Bush said he expected project manager Burns Conolly would likely provide much of the response.

‘I’m sure Burns will give fair comment,’ he said.

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