The long awaited Tortola Pier Park audit is expected to be laid in the House of Assembly at the next sitting. The announcement was made on Monday 26 November by Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith who stated that this is one of Government’s ongoing stance of openness, transparency and accountability.
The issue surrounding the Tortola Pier Park construction stemmed from the fact that project which was estimated to cost in the region $50M ballooned to $82.9M. following questions on the matter from the Opposition and public discussion Hon. Smith announced in 2016 that international firm KPMG was commissioned to carry out a full audit of the expenditure. However, the report of the audit was delayed by two years.
Nonetheless on Monday this week the Premier announced that the report will finally be made public: “In the next few days, I will be laying on the Table of the Honourable House, the Audit Report on Government Accounts for 2015 and the Auditor General’s Report on the Pier Park.”
Long and Winding Road BVI style
Back in October Premier Smith mentioned that the audit had finally been completed. He told reporters: “The audit report is completed that’s what I was informed by the persons who we asked to do it. They have received payment for the report and we/I am waiting for them to deliver it to me. As soon as it is handed over to me I would have it submitted to Cabinet.”
Before heading to Cabinet the audit report in the form of a confidential draft was submitted to the BVI Ports Authority management for their review and comments, but there was an issue accessing all of the needed information.
In explaining the snag Hon. Smith told the House during a July sitting: “It is my understanding that comments on the report have been provided, however some of the information requested referred to in the report has not been located or would need to be corroborated with persons no longer connected with the BVI Ports Authority. The report completion has therefore been impacted by incomplete records or the situation of some persons who have significant knowledge of the project.”
Meanwhile Hon. Smith said that the draft report has been submitted to the BVI Ports Authority’s parent Ministry, the Ministry of Communications and Works with comments. However, he noted that the comments are yet to be finalized for publishing by KPMG.
At that time, Hon. Smith said that completion and submission of the audit report would not mean that the document will automatically become public. Instead the Premier explained that there is an additional process. “Once the report is received by the Ministry of Finance it would be submitted to Cabinet for consideration. Cabinet will then make a decision as to whether the report would be made public.”