Auditor general to review ‘nation building’ fund

    MP

     

    The Cayman Islands Auditor General’s office said Tuesday it plans to review $7.1 million in spending by the ruling government during the past two budget years for ‘nation 
building’ initiatives.  

    The Caymanian Compass has reported those initiatives included $4.1 million given to local churches for various construction and facilities improvement, community programmes and enhancements to church buildings’ capacity as hurricane shelters.  

    Other spending from the nation building fund included $750,000 to redevelop the Pines Retirement Home, $55,000 to refurbish an unidentified private museum, and an undisclosed amount spent on a ‘Premier’s Shield’ award for the senior local spelling bee. In addition, some $380,000 had been spent on a young nation builder’s programme for the benefit of 20 students studying a variety of subjects including music, flight training, human resources, accounts and business and 
criminal justice.  

    “I would anticipate the whole nation building fund is an area that we’ll look at,” Acting Auditor General Garnet Harrison said Tuesday. “[The review] would include the churches and the other funds that were given.”  

    Mr. Harrison said no start date had been set for the review since the auditor’s office had several other projects it was working on and was limited by available resources as are all government departments.  

    “It’s one we would like to get to this year,” Mr. Harrison said.  

    It was unclear whether the review would be performed as a straight ‘value-for money’ audit or a more informal public interest report by the auditor general. Typically, government auditors will issue public interest reports on any significant matters that come to their attention during the course of an audit or otherwise.  

    Premier McKeeva Bush announced that government’s spending on the ‘nation building fund’ during the past two budget years in the Legislative Assembly last week. 

    “To date, we have provided grants of approximately $4.1 million to about 19 churches,” Mr. Bush said, adding that enhancing the churches’ hurricane shelter capabilities, improving community programmes and outreach to young people represented good value for money in Cayman.  

    Mr. Bush did not specify which churches had received the money during the 3 August speech to the Legislative Assembly.  

    Spending revealed  

    Freedom of Information requests made for the specific breakdown of ‘nation building fund’ spending actually identified 18 churches, one outreach ministry program and also the Cayman Islands Ministers Association which had received some cash from the fund between July 2009 and June of this year.  

    According to the government records, about $2.2 million went to six churches in West Bay, a little more than $1 million went to two churches in the Bodden Town and Frank Sound area, about $765,000 went to 10 churches in George Town, and an additional $125,000 was paid to a church outreach ministry.  

    The Cayman Islands Minister’s Association received $30,000 
from the fund.  

    The five churches which received the majority of the government funding over the course of two budget years were the Wesleyan Holiness Church in West Bay ($1.3 million), the Church of God, Bodden Town ($1 million), The Chapel Church of God, West Bay ($350,000), the Seventh-day Adventist Church in West Bay ($275,000), and the All Nation United Pentecostal Church in George Town ($175,000).  

    The funds given to those five churches represents about three-quarters of the $4.16 million given out from the fund over the past two years.  

    According to records, some of the cash was used for land purchases, other funds are for assisting in building or reconstruction efforts and others were simply defined as ‘grants’.  

    Last week, Mr. Bush urged lawmakers to consider “beyond the short-term gains they may make by seeking to heap ridicule on our nation-building efforts”.  

    “Be mindful of where we have come from, and where we might end up, if we’re not careful,” Mr. Bush said. 

    wesleyan

    The Wesleyan Holiness Church in West Bay has received $1.3 million from government during the past two budget years. – Photo: Brent Fuller
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    3 COMMENTS

    1. Be careful becuase the deeper you dig into a rotten piece of fruit, the more rot you will find. Anything that the cowboy has had his hands in smells of rot instantly. And be careful Mr. Auditor General because if you say too much, you will be catching the next flight back to England. There seems to be a pattern developing.I wonder what it is.

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    2. Big Mac’s home church Weslyan received the largest amount of money a whopping 1.3 million dollars!

      Bodden town 1 million? Why is it that there are larger churches in George town only receiving 750,000!
      WEST BAY GOT MOST OF THE MONEY!

      Nothing wrong with helpint the elderly BUT over half of the country’s money went to West Bayers?!

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    3. I thought the Auditor General answers to the Governor alone. If so how can Big Mac influence the Governor to get rid of the Auditor General that we really need so much in this critical hour. This would make us really look down on the good governor if he does not provide the kind of job protection for the Auditor General that is so badly needed. He should have a body guard too! I’m sure he’s not one of the big spenders favorite people and the Governor needs to make sure he is well protected so he can do his job properly.

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