Transport Minister Derrick Burgess. *File photo
FRIDAY, FEB. 3: Transport Minister Derrick Burgess today hosted a special Parliamentary Caucus meeting to discuss the Auditor General’s Special Report on the Misuse of Public Funds.
“I informed my colleagues,” he said in a press statement afterwards, “that had I the information I have today, some months ago, there are some actions I would have taken, but we all know hindsight is always better than foresight.
“Having said that, I continue to support the Premier’s effort in promoting good governance in Bermuda.”
In her special report, released last week, Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews highlighted the fact that the chairman and deputy chairman of the Bermuda Land Development Company were paid a total of $160,000 in consultancy fees.
She said the consultancy arrangement was “a fundamental conflict of interest” and called for the cash to be paid back.
Mr Burgess stated today: “All Bermudians will agree that there has been a media frenzy since the release of the Special Report of the Auditor General.
“Given the political climate in Bermuda presently, I am not surprised that the Auditor General’s report has generated such media interest.
“As a consequence of certain news report [sic], I requested a special Parliamentary Caucus meeting so that I could apprise my colleagues of my position first hand.
“I was frank and forthright in the meeting and after I gave my presentation I invited questions from my colleagues. It was a productive and informative meeting.”
In his statement, Mr Burgess questioned why the Auditor General’s report was not referred first to the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Assembly, in accordance with usual practice.
He said: “That would be followed by an official response made on behalf of the Government by the Premier. In this case, normal protocol was not followed.”
The Premier moved the BLDC to the Environment Ministry in April last year and a month later a special meeting of the company disbanded the board and appointed a new one.
Mr Burgess said yesterday: “As has been noted previously, the Premier removed the Bermuda Land Development Company, Bermuda Housing Corporation and the West End Development Corporation from the remit of the Ministry of Public Works and transferred them to the Ministry of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy. They were subsequently returned to the Ministry of Public Works.”