Brac road paving expenditure raises questions
The Auditor General, Alastair Swarbrick, made public on Wednesday, 23 May a public interest report on Road Paving Expenditure in Cayman Brac. This is the first time the Office of the Auditor General has issued this type of report, as part of the new reporting framework, which provides the Members of the Legislative Assembly and the public with information about a particular issue.
In his report, Mr Swarbrick outlined his concerns about how the Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture (the “Ministry”) spent at least $521,000 paving private parking lots in Cayman Brac out of government funds approved for a programme designated to improve public roads. The expenditures were incurred from 2009 and continue to the current date.
According to the report, as part of the road paving programme in Cayman Brac, the parking lots for 56 private (businesses and church) parking had been paved as at October 2011, as well as parking lots for Government purposes.
“We were informed by the Ministry that there was no documented business case prepared for either the road paving programme or the paving of commercial/private parking lots that demonstrated the value or benefit that would be obtained.
Under the financial regulations to the PMFL, as the programme is a capital acquisition greater than $300,000, a business case should also have been submitted to the Public Sector Investment Committee,” the Auditor General noted in his report.
He also reported that the Road Paving Programme went beyond its authority by supplying materials and labour for the improvement of privately owned parking lots without recovering the costs from the owners. In his opinion, the Ministry did not have the legal authority to spend these moneys from the public purse.
“Only the Legislative Assembly, through such authorities as appropriation acts, can approve expenditures from the public purse. When Ministers and officials take it upon themselves to spend money without proper authority, this should create a significant concern for the people of the Cayman Islands”, Mr Swarbrick said.
The Auditor General also outlined a number of other concerns about the Road Paving Programme in Cayman Brac including a lack of due regard for value-for-money in the purchase of a hot mixed asphalt plant used to construct the roads and parking lots, as well as a conflict of interest associated with the hiring of the National Roads Authority Board chairman as the project manager.
Mr Swarbrick said he will refer the report to the attorney general.
“I plan to issue more public interest reports that focus on a particular subject as I believe the Legislative Assembly needs to be kept informed about these significant matters,” he stated.