Objects to portrayal of spending as unaccounted
Premier Kathy Dunderdale voices her displeasure to reporters at the Confederation Building media centre Friday over an editorial that appeared in Friday's edition of The Telegram about the Auditor General's Report. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Premier Kathy Dunderdale began a news conference at the House of Assembly late Friday morning by voicing her objections to the editorial in that day's edition of The Telegram.
"We've had quite a lot of commentary in the last couple of days with regard to the Auditor General's Report. However, I feel this morning that in the opinion piece in The Telegram that lines were crossed," the premier said.
Specifically, Dunderdale charged that the editorial's author did not understand and convey the true meaning of what was stated in the report issued by acting auditor general Wayne Loveys.
The premier said the editorial was incorrect in suggesting there was no accounting for how $5 billion in infrastructure spending was parceled out.
"What the (acting) auditor general said was that he didn't feel he had access to documents that allow him to determine how decisions were made on how we were going to spend money," she said.
"Nowhere in his report does he talk about not knowing where money was spent. Nowhere. The auditor general is informed on a daily basis where every cent in the government is spent. It's all uploaded to a website that he has access to. On a monthly basis, he is given a roll-up of the month's spending - down to the last nickel. When projects are approved at cabinet, the auditor general is informed of what projects are approved, before a nickel is spent."
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The acting auditor general explained he sought access to documents on how the government departments identify, evaluate and rank potential infrastructure projects.
"What we pointed out in the editorial was that the (acting) auditor general was seeking information on how projects were being approved, and that the auditor general was rebuffed by the Department of Justice. The auditor himself pointed out that the government's actions were 'precedent-setting,'" said editorial page editor Russell Wangersky.
"The purpose of the editorial was to point out that when a government chooses to withhold information from its own auditor, that action has the potential to raise questions in people's minds, questions that tend to be unpleasant."
The news conference went on to ultimately address the Lower Churchill project and an update from Nalcor and Emera made earlier in the day.