Friday, May 17, 2013

Review on Choiseul Village Council holds Former Rep and Village Clerk Accountable - Part 1

The "Review of the Financial Position of the Town, Village and Rural Councils" around the Island has been made a public document. The report has raised many eyebrows about the operations of those councils which were graced with the Taiwanese Funds.
The Choiseul report looks at the operations of the Council, the use of the Taiwanese funds, the Easter Beautification Project, the  disbursement of funds for projects and the Moroccan funds as well as other foreign donations given to the former Rep. Quite a damning report. Recommendations are provided at the end of the report.
This post will confine itself with the Review of the Financial Position of Choiseul Village Council. Due to the length of the report "Choiseul On The Move"  will post the Review in  four parts so as to give its readers time to digest it. The report is thus:

"The Choiseul Village Council was established pursuant to the provisions of the Local Authorities
Ordinance Chapter 239, Revised Laws of St. Lucia, 1957 (repealed).
Section 6 (1) of the Local Authorities Ordinance, Chapter 239, Revised Laws of St. Lucia, 1957
(repealed) stipulates the following:
“The Governor in Council may declare any area in the Colony to be an urban,
village or rural district for the purposes of this Ordinance and may define the
boundaries of such district and also of any district created by this Ordinance
and may alter, restrict, or enlarge the same”. 
As mentioned elsewhere in the report, in keeping with Section 6 (1) of the Ordinance (reference
page 67) the following communities fell within the boundaries of the Choiseul Village Council:
a. La Pointe, Delcer, Industry, Franciou, Jacobie, Ravineau, Bois D’inde, Esperance West,
Fiette West, Myers Bridge, Derriere Morne West, Anse L’ Ivrogne, Deville Estate;
b. Anse John, Fiette East, Portalese, Mongouge, Morne Sion, Libereaux, Martin, Ponyon,
New Field, Victoria, Esperance East, Derriere Morne East;
c. Le Riche, Savanne George, Choiseul Village, Reunion, La Fargue;
d. Belle Vue, Morne Jacques, Des Randeaux, Dacretin, Manana, Victoria, Mailly;
e. Motete, Mondesir, Roblot, Dupre, La Maze, River Doree, Debreuil, Monzie;
f. Sauzay, Cafeiere, Capognotte, Dugard, Dacretin;
g. La Perle, Londonderry, Gertrine, Giraud, Beausoliel, Beausejour;
h. Mont Lezard, Parc Estate, Saltibus, Daban, Gaya Bois, Warwick, Grande  Magazin,
Belvedere East;
i. Piaye, Balembouche, Balca, Bongale.
The Review revealed some very significant findings in relation to the Choiseul Village Council.
Details of these findings are outlined below.
Page 151 of 190
i. Account Opened Without Proper Approval
We noticed that Council opened and operated an account (A/C no. 090669) at the Choiseul
Cooperative Credit Union from April 2009. There is no evidence to show that Council received
the approval of the Accountant General to open and operated the account at the Credit Union.
It was observed that Council used that account to deposit funds ($100,000.00) given by Central
Government under the Easter Economic Stimulus Programme in April 2009. It must be noted that
the Accountant General had opened a bank account at Bank of St. Lucia for the Choiseul Village
Council in February 2008, for the purposes of depositing funds received from Central Government.
Despite the existence of the BOSL account, Council chose to open the said account at the Credit
Union, in which was deposited the $100,000.00 (see Exhibit 56).
ii. Bank Account into Overdraft
Regulation 114 of the Financial Regulations – Section 54, Finance (Administration) Act, Revised
Laws of St. Lucia, 2005 states as follows:
“No accounting officer may overdraw a bank account operated by him or her.”
It was duly noted that the Bank of St. Lucia account went into overdraft on the 23rd of May 2008
up until the 13th May 2009 to the tune of $765.00. In fact Council, Ministry of Local Government
and Accountant General’s Department were not even aware that the bank account went into
overdraft, simply because they were not monitoring and doing the necessary bank reconciliations.
This is a serious violation of the Financial Regulations and the respective parties must ensure that
the situation does not repeat itself.  
iii. Collections Not Paid-in on Time
Regulation 129 of the Financial Regulations – Section 54, Finance (Administration) Act, Revised
Laws of St. Lucia, 2005 stipulates the following:
(1)  Any cash held in excess of daily requirements shall be lodged in a commercial bank;
(2) Where banking facilities are not available, any cash held in excess of daily requirement
shall be secured in a strong room or safe.”
Page 152 of 190
We noticed that Council did not pay monies collected to the Sub Accountant for
Soufriere/Choiseul on a daily basis because the Sub Accountant visited Choiseul only twice per
week, Tuesdays and Fridays.
Therefore we enquired of the Clerk of Council as to the mechanism used to keep monies collected
safe when the Sub Accountant has not visited. The Clerk of Council indicated monies collected on
the days the Sub Accountant is absent are paid into her credit union account and would be
withdrawn on days that the sub-collector would be in office.
This practice is totally unacceptable as it opens collections of the Council to significant risk of
embezzlement. Further, the Council faces risk of loss if Clerk of Council was to depart the Council
before these monies are withdrawn from her credit union account.
If there is real need for Council to have an account at the Credit Union for the purpose of securing
monies in the absence of the Sub Accountant, Council should make a request to the Accountant
General’s Department through the Ministry of the Local Government.
iv. Council Records
According to the Job Description of Clerks of Town/Village Council, one of the duties/tasks of the
Clerk is to ensure that the records of all transactions are properly secured and kept and shall make
all such documents available for inspection by authorized persons. He/she shall keep all other
records as may be required by Council or the Ministry. Financial Regulation 156 (reference page
27) also places these responsibilities on Clerk of Council
On the 6th March, 2012, used cheque books were requested from the Clerk. Clerk indicated that
she did not have all the cheque books because they were in the possession of the Former District
Representative, Rufus Bousquet.
She indicated and we quote: “He came with someone who appeared to be from the Taiwanese
Embassy and he indicated that he needed the cashbook and cheque books to reconcile his accounts”
(see Exhibit 57).
Rufus Bousquet took possession of ten (10) cheque books in the month of February 2012, at a time
he was no longer the Parliamentary Representative for the Choiseul-Saltibus Constituency. In fact,
he had no authority to be in possession of these books. The Clerk requested the cheque books from
him and a week later, they were received. We cannot confirm whether he did make alterations to
the cheque books.
After  the incident, we requested from  the  Clerk of Council other documents in relation to
procurement of construction services to substantiate the several enormous disbursements that were
Page 153 of 190
made from the bank account of Council. We were once more directed to the Former Parliamentary
Representative, Rufus Bousquet. However, several requests to Mr Bousquet by the Council (Clerk)
and the Ministry of Local Government to release the necessary documents proved futile (see
Exhibit 58).
Further, we made inquiries at the Office of the new Parliamentary Representative, Lorne
Theophilus, to establish whether Former Parliamentary Representative, Rufus Bousquet handed
over any documents in relation to the procurement of constructions services for the Constituency
of Choiseul. The Office of the new Parliamentary Representative, Lorne Theophilus has confirmed
that Former Parliamentary Representative, Rufus Bousquet did not hand over any documents
whatsoever when he demitted office.
We are of the view that this practice by Former Parliamentary Representative, Rufus Bousquet is
a fundamental breach of Sections 30 and 33 of the Constitution of St. Lucia. Whereas the location
and the individual in the Office of Parliamentary Representative may change from time to time,
the constitutional office of Parliamentary Representative for the Choiseul Constituency is a going concern and will remain a going-concern.
Consequently all documentation in relation to completed or on-going projects and initiatives for
the Constituency of Choiseul has to be passed from the former holder-of-office to current holderof-
office.  Further, it was irresponsible of Clerk of Council, Williana St Rose to have given
possession of these documents to the Former Parliamentary Representative."
Look out for Part 2 on Sunday.

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