President to respond to wine controversy soon

Friday, September 23, 2016 - 04:30

President Anthony Carmona is back home and spent part of the day yesterday visiting the home of his personal butler who died while he was in Guyana and in meetings.

Well-placed sources said he intends to clear the air on allegations of misspending at President’s House by Sunday.

The President returned to the country just after 9 am yesterday from attending the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges Association conference. 

Well-placed sources told the T&T Guardian  Carmona immediately went to the east Trinidad home of his former butler, Choy Richardson, who died of a heart attack this week. He later visited Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris in Port-of-Spain but no details of that meeting were revealed but sources said the two meet from time-to-time as the President was a devout Roman Catholic.

Carmona is said to have spent the afternoon in meetings and was seeking advice on how he intended to respond to allegations being made in the public domain about wine and jewellery.  

Sources said Carmona planned to address the issues “soon” but that may not come before Sunday due to other commitments.

 His address will deal with all issues, the wine and jewellery, Auditor General’s report, his meeting with the National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and the employment of Primati Noe as a member of staff at President’s House.

In his report laid in Parliament in April, the Auditor General pointed to “85 instances of incorrect classification of expenditure, totalling $2,685,236.90, in contravention of financial regulation 65, which stipulates that a vote may not be applied to a purpose for which it was not intended” at President’s House.

A memorandum was sent to the head of the household at President’s House, Esther Liverpool, on March 15 and according to the report a response remained outstanding as at April 15.

In the report, Auditor General Majid Ali referred to a circular sent out by the Comptroller of Accounts dated August 18 last year, which, he said, provided “detailed instructions with respect to the preparation and submission of Appropriation Accounts for the year ended September 30, 2015.” 

Nevertheless, he said “typographical and other errors, as well as omissions continue to be evident in certain Appropriation Accounts submitted for audit.” 

The Auditor General made it clear that errors or omissions which were referred to “have no material effect on the truth and fairness of the Public Accounts,” unless otherwise stated in the report. He went on to remind accounting officers “of their responsibility to ensure that the statements submitted are thoroughly checked for errors and omissions before submission.”

The T&T Guardian yesterday tried unsuccessfully to contact Liverpool to find out whether a response had been submitted to the Auditor General subsequent to the laying of the report.

SOURCE: (Rosemarie Sant)