Incredibly, the Office of The Prime Minister has indicated that it does not know if any laws were broken when the Treasury advanced monies to the PLP for its trip to Bermuda. The spokesman for the OPM has instead asked that the Opposition advise them of what laws had been broken. It is embarrassing for us to have to educate the Office of the Prime Minister on the law – especially given that the Cabinet has more than one noted King’s Counsel with decades of experience in the practice of law. We firmly believe they were fully aware that their actions were inappropriate but were blinded by arrogance and were caught in plain sight. Nonetheless we shall assist the Office of the Prime Minister.
The government’s spokesman would do well to acquaint himself with Articles 130 and 131 of the Constitution which speaks to how public funds are authorized and which, in Article 131, expressly says that public funds “issued shall be disposed of for meeting public expenditure under Article 130 of the Constitution or, in the case of statutory expenditure, for the purposes appointed by law”.
We are pleased to advise him as well that under Section 30 (1) of the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act that “no public officer nor public office holder shall commit the government to a financial liability or contingent liability unless specifically authorized to do so under this or any other Act”.
Finally, we make him aware that Section 111 (1) (a) of the PFM Act states that “a public officer, or other person with responsibility for public resources commits an offense of financial misconduct if, without lawful authority, that person willfully or recklessly (a) incurs expenditure or makes commitments for expenditure of public money.” Clearly, advancing moneys for a trip by a political or any other non-government entity is not public expenditure as defined in the Constitution or any statute law of The Bahamas. Therefore it is unauthorized expenditure plain and simple.
Parliament has not appropriated any sums of moneys to advance to outside entities for travel purposes. Indeed, Parliament could not do such a thing. Given that this is unauthorized public expenditure, it qualifies under the PFM act as expenditure “without lawful authority” and as such it constitutes an offense under Bahamian law. We fully expect that all persons who authorized this expenditure would do the honorable thing and accept the sanctions prescribed under the PFM Act. We shall take up this matter forthwith in the Public Accounts Committee where we shall utilize our statutory powers to compel the submission of all relevant information in respect to this most sordid matter.
The Hon Michael C Pintard
Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition Leader of the Free National Movement
30TH October 2022