Economist urges caution in handling THA audit report

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Dr Vanus James -
Dr Vanus James –

Economist Dr Vanus James has warned the Progressive Democratic Patriots-led THA to be careful as it makes public a THA audit report, at the Assembly Legislature, on Thursday.

In January, Augustine announced he had ordered forensic audits into five initiatives under the former PNM-led THA during the period October 2019 to November 2021. Augustine said the projects are: the emergency restoration works program; the road restoration program; the road resurfacing program; the emergency infrastructure rehabilitation project and the agricultural access roads program.

James said, “The government has to be extremely careful on how it handles what we might think of as these scandals created by the PNM government, if there is serious evidence of scandal.”

He added, “The community in Tobago that is trying to develop is small, the entrepreneurs on the island are a very small group of people so, you have to be thoughtful about how to engage them going forward into the development process. The more you shatter the unity of the people, the more difficulty you would have mounting a development program.”

He added: “The government has to weigh that against the need to punish wrongdoers and you have to balance them properly and carefully. You balance them thoughtfully by engaging the society in careful discussions about what is to be done. This is not Farley’s problem or Faith’s problem, this is a problem for the people of Tobago, and the wrongdoers, whoever they are, must be engaged on behalf of the people of Tobago, not through an authoritarian process but through a democratic process.

“Let the people get their own share of the say in what is to be done if we are going to try to make progress going forward.”

On Monday, Augustine said there are a lot of “sponsored” distractions in Tobago by people who do not want the audit report to be publicized.

“Come hell or high waters, it would be brought to the public’s attention and in full view of the public. When I give a much more comprehensive report on that audit, you will understand where (the distractions are coming from). Not only do we have correlation, but where we have direct causation of these noises.”

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