‘Good’ accounting but no reporting of relief funds

Minister Melford Nicholas (file photo)

The government continues to reassure the public that monies collected for Barbuda relief and reconstruction are being properly managed, though no one seems able to say when a document detailing that management will be made public. The concern was put to Melford Nicholas, information minister at Thursday’s post-Cabinet press conference, to which he replied, “When the final assessment is being done, then all of the monies which would have been received will be adequately accounted for.”

The minister revealed that a chartered public accountant has been hired to audit the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) and produce a report regarding its inflows and outflows. “All of the relief funds were channelled through NODS,” Nicholas said yesterday, adding that once the accountant has finished “Cabinet will have its consideration of it, it will be taken to Parliament and it will be a matter of public record.” Members of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) have been calling on the government to more regularly make public the up to date details of the monies donated for Barbuda relief and recovery.

As recent as Sunday, Joan Underwood, UPP education officer made such a call. There is currently no known public reporting regimen to which NODS or any other government entity or department adheres for regularly publishing full or summary details of money collected for Barbuda relief and reconstruction and spent for the same purpose. Hurricane Irma destroyed Barbuda’s lone village, Codrington in September and since then there have been sporadic reports by varying government officials and offices of money donated and money spent. Yesterday, Nicholas was unable to quote a total figure for either of those variables.

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