Joint Public Accounts Committee Alerts Government: Public Ministries Face Over 40 Cases of Theft

Joint Public Accounts Committee Alerts Government: Public Ministries Face Over 40 Cases of Theft

There are over forty instances of theft or pilfering that have been reported within the various public ministries. The figure was recently provided by the Joint Public Accounts Committee, tasked with maintaining the checks and balances of the public purse, to PM Briceno. The committee has not been able to produce a national audit report since 2015 and says it’s because of outstanding financial reports. According to Briceno, the issue is one that he has personally asked to address with urgency. 

Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “What we will do is that JPAC when I met with them, you know, they’re going back and forth, back and forth. It reminds me of those hamsters in a wheel, spinning and spinning and not moving. And I don’t mean it disrespectfully I use it as an analogy. And I said to the committee I said listen to me we could be here back and forth and lamenting because as I told, and the chair agreed with me this thing is  happening long before we got into government, this PUP government. So what you can do to fix it ?  So I suggested that in January they were going to call another meeting I will attend as Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. I asked that they invite Minister Chris Coye, going to invite the Financial Secretary, the Auditor General, the Accountant General, the head of the Treasury Department all these levels and then the Minister for the  Public Service and for us to be able to talk and see what are the issues. Once we have made some decisions at that level, we’re going to have a second meeting and at the second meeting we’re going to bring in the technical people within the government to say listen to me you have to get this done. I cannot understand how a department can’t balance their bank account every week or every month, that’s basic economics, you know, and it upsets me when you hear these kinds of things. So we have to address it. There’s a list of about 44 infractions from different ministries where there’s allegations of stealing or pilfering you pick a word. So I told the chair, and for sure I really have to remind her I  haven’t gotten the copy, I said give me a copy of that and I will ensure that every ministry gets a copy, every minister and I will tell every minister if there’s anybody in this list that is working in your ministry, I want you to ensure that we take action against these people and we have to take them to court.”

The JPAC has met with the Financial Secretary, the Accountant General, and the Auditor General but says they are still not able to get all the material they need to carry out their duties.

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