PM happy Wheatley intends to ensure public purse is restored

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness says that former science, energy and technology minister Dr Andrew Wheatley has done the right thing in accepting the auditor general's report on Petrojam.

“I thought that it is important that, as the former minister, he embraces the report,” Holness told a press conference at Jamaica House yesterday.

“It was also important that he accepts that there were areas in the report which clearly indicated the expected standard of discharge of public duties, for oversight, governance and specifically as it relates to the use of public funds.

“I want to start there, because that was an important principle that the Government must not just speak about in words, but in practice, and reinforce it,” the prime minister added.

Holness also noted that, in the past, when similar issues arose and were brought to public attention, reports were tabled but seldom was any effort made to make restitution. However, he said that coming out of the current exercise, Jamaica would benefit if the system of governance is allowed to grow stronger and a principle of restitution is included.

“If public agents cause funds to be used inappropriately, illegally, then those who benefit and those who cause the Government to lose, must make restitution. So, I am happy to see that Minister Wheatley has embraced the principle and has said that he will seek to ensure that the public purse is restored,” he said.

“I think that principle should go the fullest in that regard, and where it is clear, by virtue of the report, that there was a case of the misuse of public funds, then I am going to direct the board to take such civil actions as are necessary to recover those funds,” he told the press conference.

However, he urged the public to bear in mind that the auditor general's report is only one of several reports, and only one of the “processes of accountability”, as reports are also expected from the Integrity Commission and the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency.

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