FINANCIAL Secretary Simon Wilson.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
FINANCIAL Secretary Simon Wilson says finance experts have been challenged in gleaning the necessary information to determine a true picture of the former Minnis administration’s COVID-19 emergency spending.
“No,” he said, when asked whether there was yet a figure for how much public funds were spent during the state of emergency.
“The challenge that we have is that the information that is available with respect to the state of emergency is not easily available.
“It’s a real challenge. So, if you ask me about anything (to do with) the state of emergency, any expenditure, I have no information. If you ask the persons who were involved, they have no information. It has to be gathered and collated to be presented.”
He said officials had started an exercise beginning with the National Food Distribution Task Force programme, but the information was not readily available.
As a result, he said officials continued to work on this aspect.
In November 2021, Press Secretary Clint Watson said during a weekly press briefing that finance officials were in the midst of a full review of the pandemic emergency spending.
At the time, he said those experts were combing through records to make a determination.
While in opposition, Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis questioned this spending and why the government had refused to particularly reveal associated vendors, among other things.
In a report from the International Monetary Fund last January, the Minnis administration pledged that the Auditor General would probe all COVID-19 related spending and revenue losses in a bid to uncover any “irregularities”.
The fund, in a full Article IV report on The Bahamas, said at the time that this effort was key to fostering public trust in the government and ensuring value for money was obtained for every dollar spent.
Later in August, Mr Davis called for more accountability and transparency by the Minnis administration on the awarding of COVID-19 related contracts.