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Nalcor audit won’t be done before retirement: AG

Auditor General Terry Paddon speaks to the media about his report on the controversial Humber Valley Paving contract linked to Frank Coleman, who almost became premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Auditor General Terry Paddon speaks to the media about his report on the controversial Humber Valley Paving contract linked to Frank Coleman, who almost became premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Auditor General Terry Paddon won’t finish his report on Nalcor Energy before he retires at the end of the month, but speaking to The Telegram this week, he gave some hints about what he’s examining.

Paddon said he doesn’t know when his Nalcor audit will be done, because somebody else will need to complete it.

“The one thing I’m certain of is that it won’t be ready this month. So beyond that, then, it’s really out of my hands,” Paddon said.

Paddon announced earlier this year that the Auditor General’s office was looking into aspects of Nalcor, although it wouldn’t be the full-blown audit of the Muskrat Falls project that many people are now loudly demanding.

“It’s a big organization, so what we’ve done is we’ve tried to take a couple of discrete pieces,” Paddon said of the Nalcor audit currently underway.

“We’re looking at things around compensation, we’re looking at things around procurement — not specific to, say, Muskrat Falls, but more generally in the organization — and things around discretionary expenditures, if you want to call it that.”

Paddon was cautious when talking about a potential forensic audit for Muskrat Falls. He said he knows it wouldn’t be cheap though.

“I’m not quite sure that the word ‘forensic audit’ is appropriate. I mean, I think really what people are looking for is for somebody to go in and look at, perhaps, the decision-making process and the execution process, and those sorts of things,” he said.

“It would take a lot of time and a lot of resources. The outcome? I have no idea what the outcome would be.”

On Friday, Paddon published the audited financial statement for the province, which are the final, definitive accounting of the 2016-17 budget year. The numbers once again point to rising debt and fiscal problems for the province.

When he spoke to the Telegram earlier in the week, Paddon was pessimistic about the province’s current financial situation.
“We’re certainly getting better, but we’re certainly not where we need to go,” he said.

“The question will become, how quickly will we get to a place where we have a sustainable fiscal environment, and right now, I’m not sure I see it in the near future.”

Paddon has been serving as auditor general since 2012. Before that, he was a long-time public servant, rising to the level of deputy minister in the Department of Finance.

As he gets ready for retirement, Paddon said that he’s most proud of some of the audits that dealt with life-safety issues in the province.

“At the end of the day, they could have some far-reaching impacts,” he said.

“The one we did on the bridge maintenance, you know, road bridges here in the province, specifically around culverts and those sorts of things, which are not very sexy, but at the end of the day, there are safety issues there that are addressed.”

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

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