Editorial for May 27: You’ve got to be kidding

This
week we’ve learned the government can’t, refuses or doesn’t think it’s
important to keep track of everything it buys with credit cards. This wouldn’t
be a major concern if they were using personal credit cards, but these are government
credit cards, paid for mainly by government funds.

We’ve
learned that in the 2008/09 financial year, which mostly occurred during the
People’s Progressive Movement administration, that credit cards transactions
totalling more than US$190,000 remain unaccounted for, with no documentation to
prove they were for legitimate government business.  We’ve learned that one ministry had more than
US$35,000 in misclassified credit card transactions. We’ve learned that the
Portfolio of Finance and Economics – of all agencies! – had nearly $7,500 in misclassified
credit card expenses, which it blamed on a vacancy in the position that was
supposed to review the credit card records.

We’ve
learned that the government credit cards were used to purchase more than $5,100
worth of goods or services for personal reasons, and that through February this
year, $780 of that still hadn’t been reimbursed.

We’ve
learned that in many cases, the people monitoring the credit card purchases,
which are typically made by government ministers, chief officers and department
heads, were subordinate staff members.

From
all that we’ve learned from the internal audit report, our only response is:
you’ve got to be kidding.

Former
Auditor General Dan Duguay once spoke about a ‘cavalier attitude’ when came to
expenditures on a government project, and we certainly think that attitude
applies here.  How difficult is it,
really, to save receipts for purchases made for government business and then
record them.  This is, after all,
standard practice in the private sector. 

We
have a hard time accepting that this is beyond the capabilities of our civil
service and elected representatives, so we can only assume it is happening for
reasons of pure laziness or to hide what they’ve been doing with the credit
cards. Either option, however, is totally unacceptable.

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