'Dangerous precedent' - NIA concerned about House Speaker's decision to delay tabling CMU report

Local anti-corruption watchdog National Integrity Action (NIA) has said the decision of Speaker of the House of Representatives Pearnel Charles to delay tabling the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) audit report sets a dangerous precedent.
In media release Thursday afternoon, NIA said it is unable to find instances where a House Speaker delayed, on his own discretion, the tabling of an Auditor General's report.  
The NIA said, if the Speaker's latest action is accepted, it would allow future administrations to undermine the responsibility of parliament to provide effective oversight in the use of public funds.  
NIA said this delay runs counter to the most recent advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that better monitoring of public funds would improve long standing gaps in transparency and accountability.
It is urging Mr. Charles to table the Auditor General's Special Audit Report on the CMU at the next sitting of the House.
Mr. Charles has not provided an explanation for the delay.
The parliamentary opposition has said it will take strong action if the report is not tabled at next Tuesday's sitting.
The Gleaner on Thursday reported that it has obtained a copy of the report, which it says outlines questionable spending, flagrant human-resource breaches and other violations.
It said the report places senior officials at the CMU in the spotlight for their failure to establish proper internal controls and risk-management systems to reduce losses and prevent regulatory breaches.
It is reported that the audit also uncovered payments amounting to $2 million made by the university for close protection services for former education minister Ruel Reid, but the institution's records showed no basis for the expenditure.
Mr. Reid and Professor Pinnock are facing criminal charges in relation to issues at the CMU.
Mr. Reid's wife Sharen, their daughter Sharelle and the councillor for the Brown's Town Division, Kim Brown Lawrence, were also arrested and charged with fraud offences.

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