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NICH President and Board United Against flawed draft document

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Cabinet has made a decision to suspend National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) President Sapna Budhrani based on a leaked internal audit. But it turns out that  not only was the leaked document an incomplete draft, it had glaring errors that painted a false narrative about the finances, alleged misappropriation of fuel; and missing funds. Earlier today, the NICH President was joined by board members: (VO STARTS) Estevan Pererra, Roosevelt Blades, Phillip Willoughby, Yvette Torres and Aldo Vasquez for a press conference to review the fake news that has been floating for a week. The directors of the institutions under NICH’s umbrella were also present including Dr. John Morris from the Institute of Archaeology; Alexis Salazar from the Museum of Belize and Houses of Culture; Gregory Vernon from the Institute of Creative Arts; Nigel Encalada from the Institute of Social and Cultural Research and the Technical Director for the Museum of Belize, Sheryln Jones. It was a show of force to make it clear that they supported President Budhrani while responding to all the claims that was drafted by in-house auditor Roberto Matus. Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez: “The NICH board of the directors, flanked by directors of various departments of NICH held a press conference to respond to false information that had been spread by some media houses in a leaked draft report that was riddled with errors..”

Estevan Perera: “The allegations that have been made by some of the media houses against the institution and the President of NICH as a result of the inaccurate contents of the draft quarterly audit report that was repaired by the internal Auditor. A draft and I repeat a draft, it is a draft since it has not been approved by the board of directors. Since it contains several inaccuracies and remains in complete. “

Jose Sanchez: “Associate Director of Finance, Edwin Alvarado outlined a net loss for 2017 and a profit for the months in 2018 that Budhrani’s been president.”

Edwin Alvarado, Director of Finance: “For those four months of 2017 we stood at a Net loss of $300,649.80 and for this 2018 we stand at a gross income of $285,876.08 and so we had a positive movement between the two years for those four months in question of a positive 586,525.88 or 195.1%.”

Jose Sanchez: Director of Archaeology John Morrison had to make it clear that collections from March 9th and December 25th, 2015 were collected and not missing as implied in the leaked draft.”

John Morrison: “It is not as if the funds were not allocated it’s just that it were misplaced; we have funds coming from all over the country on Christmas day and March 9th. You might have a few errors here and there but those were allocated and this what we told the internal auditor why didn’t you just come and check with me as to whether or not that issue was resolved. We are talking about an issue in March it has already been resolved; he is talking about another issue in December that has already been resolved; December of 2015 or something to that effect.”

Jose Sanchez: “With profit recorded as loss, funds in accounts alleged to be missing, and many more errors raised, the board had to closely review the incomplete work of the internal auditor.”

Roosevelt Blades, Board Member, NICH:It was about 9 hours that we went through the entire report and in that meeting he acknowledged where he earned and he indicated to us that he would have made those and certain changes. Nobody pressured him; he was given ample time and opportunity to make his presentation to the board and to the directors.  The directors had concern of some of the items within that report and all that was flushed out within that meeting. The records are going to show of that meeting that he was asked and told when things come to light he would have the press conference and he would have to face the media and he refused.”

Estevan Pererra, Board Member, NICH: “On behalf of the board of directors and the directors of the various departments that the president in joins their support and that Niche is successfully carrying out its mandate.”

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