Former legislator slams PAC report

Osbourne Bodden says Boatswain’s Beach report didn’t go far enough

The former chairman of the Public
Accounts Committee Osbourne Bodden has taken exception to the cursory way the
current PAC has dealt with the auditor general’s review of the debt financing arrangement
for Boatswain’s Beach.

The PAC’s report on that review,
which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly last week, indicated that the
committee “did not feel it necessary to call upon witnesses in this case”. 

The only comment made by the PAC on
the auditor general’s report read: “The Committee endorses the conclusion of
the Auditor General that the Cayman Islands Government received a good deal when
arranging financing for the Boatswain’s Beach project.”

Mr. Bodden didn’t agree with that
assessment.

“All I can say is based on what I
recall of the auditor general’s report, it didn’t appear to be a good deal,” he
said. “There were a lot of things in there that were questionable enough to
cause concern.”

Mr. Bodden said the PAC’s handling
of the report was a way of “shelving the issue”.

“I don’t think they did justice to
the report,” he said. “It’s just a way of putting it behind them. They should
have looked at it more closely than that. [The debt financing] cost this
country more than what it should.”

Auditor General Dan Duguay issued the
report in June 2007.  The current PAC’s
report indicated that Mr. Bodden’s committee also dealt with Mr. Duguay’s report.  Mr. Bodden, a former Bodden Town legislator,
said his committee didn’t finish the report for several reasons, partially
because it lost its Legislative Assembly administrative support and then
everyone got caught up in the election campaign.

The auditor general’s report on the
Boatswain’s Beach financing did in the end find that the final interest rate
attained represented a good deal that “will result in lower interest costs over
the years”.

However, the report was for the
most part highly critical of the financing arrangements and Mr. Duguay
specifically stated in his report that he did not believe the interest rate
obtained “can be the final answer to the question of whether this was a good
deal for the government.”

Mr. Duguay’s report suggested that
more than $1.65 million of the $2.8 million spent in acquiring the financing
that was “of little value to the residents of the Cayman Islands.”  In particular, the auditor general was highly
critical of $970,000 that was paid to two companies for which he said
Boatswain’s Beach “received little in exchange for the payments of such large
amounts of money”.

Additionally, Mr. Duguay found a
“wanton disregard” for the use of public funds and concluded that in his 30
year of auditing, “I have difficulty thinking of any situation which showed
such a cavalier attitude to the expenditure of such sums.”

The PAC report tabled last week
called Mr. Duguay’s report “fair, detailed and informative” yet made no mention
of any of the critical aspects of the report.

Speaking about the PAC’s report
Monday, Mr. Duguay called the conclusion of the committee “cherry picking to
the extreme”.

“They’re not required to comment on
all aspects of my report,” he said. “It’s unfortunate they didn’t comment on any
other aspects. [The ultimate interest rate attained] was just one part of a
30-page report. Many other points were not addressed.”

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