Don't let them fool you! (Part II)
Last week we started to look at the false arguments that Prime Minister (PM) Skerrit and his defenders and collaborators are putting out to fool the people concerning the whereabouts of the unaccounted- for EC$1.2 billion from the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI) for fiscal year 2018/19.
Many of these false arguments are reflected in a propaganda video labeled "PWC vs UWP". But, like Bob Marley said in song "…we have a mind of our own", so, let us continue where we left off in the last article in which two false arguments were already debunked.
In the propaganda video piece, a lady is heard promoting a third false argument by saying:
"Statements like these do not go down well with our country".
Well lady, maybe statements seeking truth does not go down well with those who see their membership in the Skerrit-led Labour Party as membership in a gang or cult! Or maybe it does not go down well with those who have been bewitched and those with a deep culture of corruption! But every good citizen should want the answer to the question – Where the money gone? If you don't want that answer or if you don't want the truth, then you don't want good governance. But the majority of us want good governance as it is important to allow our people to escape poverty, thrive well above the poverty line and allow our children to have a better future!
We are definitely not going to lose the CBI source of funds because of the question on the unaccounted-for funds! Indeed, we are at risk of losing the CBI source of funds due to the corrupt management of the programme by the Skerrit-led Administration. When passports are sold to crooks, criminal, or other unsavory characters without adequate due diligence including the ignoring of recommendations based on due diligence findings, it opens the door for these holders of our passports to harm the interest of European and other countries in various ways – and it is this reality that could lead European countries to withdraw visa-free access to their countries by holders of Dominican passports. If that is done, then the programme will die!
But it is important that all Dominicans understand that the best chance to save the CBI programme is to remove the corrupt Skerrit regime from government and replace it with a new regime. Why? Because European governments will be more inclined to give a new administration the space to reverse the bad, corrupt and harmful practices of the Skerrit Administration.
In another part of the propaganda video, one person is seen saying:
"You cannot report on money that is not there…"
Surely, accounting officers cannot report on things they are not aware of! They will not report on things they agreed to keep quiet about in the hope that it would never be discovered! They will not report on things that they turned a blind eye to! But there should be proper accounting for all public monies in accordance with the finance laws and regulations. Clearly, by the PM's own utterances, 1.2bn dollars was not reported in the budget due to his so-called Housing Option. But what the PM calls the Housing Option is not essentially different from Option 1 under the CBI programme. Of course, out of the funds that economic citizens are required to deposit into the Economic Diversification Fund (under Option 1), the government can allocate a portion towards a housing programme. That is its choice, but this must be done legally through the normal budgeting process. From what we have gathered so far, there has been no legitimate or legal authorization for such funds not to be part of the Consolidated Fund and hence the inflows and use of funds associated with receipts under Option 1 or his so-called Housing Option should be fully reflected in the budget documents. If this is not so, then the Skerrit Administration should present information to prove that it had the legal authority to have a distinct Housing Option that is different from Option 1, and that it had the authority to receive and expend this money outside of the Consolidated Fund and outside of the normal process for implementing the budget.
But beyond the matter of the flagrant disregard for the law and best practices, was this deliberate orchestrated move meant to defraud the public? You see, if these matters are outside the control of the normal accounting procedures and public scrutiny, then it presents a ripe opportunity for fraud!
If I were an accounting officer, I would clear my name provided I was innocent in this matter or I would come clean if I were complicit or negligent in this matter. Accounting officer, I pray that God gives you the strength to expose the evil and wicked politicians who are seeking to ensnare you.
Kent Vital Political Leader Dominica Freedom Party.