The Public Works Department faces a Finance Ministry investigation after legislators uncover an unauthorised bank account.
The discovery was made in the Finance Committee Thursday (13 September) when the Ombudsman’s Office requested more government funding.
Opposition MLAs questioned a $500, 000 payment to the department for refurbishment works that are yet to be done.
The payment was signed over and deposited into the account last year.
East End MLA Arden McLean said the matter is disconcerting.
“They cannot and they must not have a bank account out in the middle of George Town as if they have a back pocket and working out of that, plus working off the budget the peoples’ representative approved,” Mr. McLean said.
Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston apologised for the confusion.
“It certainly was not intended to circumvent the process or be underhanded or hide money. My office would never part of that kind of thing. And I just need to assure you that was not the intent,” explained Ms. Herminston.
Infrastructure Minister Hon. Joey Hew said he was not aware of the situation and assured his team will get the details on the matter. Finance Minister Hon. Roy McTaggart added the money is not missing, since it would be reflected in the Public Works account.
Despite concerns, the Ombudsman’s request for more funding was approved by one vote. Seven Government members voted for, six against that included the Opposition bench (including Government back bencher West Bay North MLA Bernie Bush.) Three members abstained from voting, including George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan giving Government the one vote needed to pass the appropriation.