Minister of Finance wants the words, ‘accountability’ and ‘transparency’ to have weight

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Peter Turnquest addressed ‘IIA Week-Bahamas Chapter’ (Institute of Internal Auditors) luncheon held at Luciano’s of Chicago, May 25, 2018. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)
The IIA presented Minister Turnquest with a token of gratitude. Pictured from left: Anishka Collie, IIA Bahamas Chapter VP of Continuing Professional Education; Minister Turnquest; and Davine Rolle, IIA Bahamas Chapter President. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

“Words like accountability and transparency must be more than just political buzzwords. We must back that up,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Peter Turnquest, at ‘IIA Week-Bahamas Chapter’ (Institute of Internal Auditors) luncheon held at Luciano’s of Chicago, May 25, 2018. Mr. Turnquest revealed that the whole idea of internal auditing is so timely as the government tries to ensure transparency and accountability to reduce the instances of abuse and fraud in government spending. The government’s aim is to improve processes, identify and ‘weed out’ bad practices and weaknesses in the overall system, therefore the Minister of Finance expressed much gratitude towards the participants and facilitators of this IIA Week. Minister Turnquest shared exactly how cumbersome the Ministry of Finance is by stating that it accounts for 61% of the national budget, which translates to over $1,000,000,000 which explains why he stresses his personal mantra of ‘transparency, accountability, and integrity.

To possibly enhance the government’s economic action plan, he suggested the help of the members of the IIA to review the “Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2018” in their free time and make recommendations. It is available for download on the Bahamas Government’s website and comments and recommendations may be sent to fiscalresponsibility@bahamas.gov.bs.  According to Mr. Turnquest, it creates public access to more accurate information about the government’s fiscal performance in the endeavor to lower fiscal deficit, maintain a sustainable fiscal balance, lower debt to sustainable long-term levels and maintain current economic growth in line with growth in nominal GDP. Knowledge of witness protection programs along with possible rewards for those auditors who report fraud elicited excitement amongst IIA members: Mr. Turnquest said, “Just being hypothetical: you bring me a $20,000,000 fraud, personally, I have no difficulty giving you 1%-10% of that as an incentive.” Transformation of the Ministry of Finance’s VAT Audit Team also elicited excitement from IIA members who were informed by Minister Turnquest that “We are going to transfer those positions to Bahamians. Over the next few years, we will transition to a full team of Bahamian professionals thus creating new paths, and strengthening our local industry.” Among  IIA members were President Davine Rolle; Vice-President of Continuing Professional Education, Anishka Collie; and Vice-President of Membership, Cheryl Simms.

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