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‘Give debt unit teeth’

marciadottin, [email protected]

‘Give debt unit teeth’

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THE IMPACT OF THE soon-to-be-formed Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) is already being questioned.
The concerns were raised yesterday in the Senate by Independent Senator Keith “Tony” Marshall during his contribution to the Estimates debate.
The retired banker insisted that unless there was a robust recoveries unit in that supra tax-collection agency that was “permitted to function and that is staffed by people who understand the collection of debt, we are not going to do as well as we had hoped to do”.
In a wide-ranging contribution, Marshall even suggested that Government should move to write off much of the debts owed to it that were on its books for several years and for which there was little chance of collecting.
He contended that what was needed was legislation “with teeth to be able to pursue delinquent people”.
He told the Upper Chamber: “As it now stands, I would suggest that the collection of Government debt is a joke . . . . People pay little attention to it.”
Marshall added that it had become clear that the Auditor General’s Department “seemed to lack the capacity to undertake the auditing of the several departments and boards as is necessary”.
The former talk show host said he was not slighting the quality of work done by the professionals in the Auditor General’s Office.
 He, however, questioned the department’s ability “in terms of the law, to allow the boards and other agencies of Government to satisfy the requirements of the particular law under which they were established in meeting the deadlines for submission of audited accounts”.
Marshall said he would not put the entire blame on the Auditor General’s Office but stressed that within many of the state agencies and boards, “there were problems”.
He told the Senate: “Unless the boards are staffed appropriately with people who are able to do the preparatory work for the Auditor General to complete his audit, we are not going to make meaningful progress.
“It is a shame.
It is a disgrace when you hear that whichever department or agency or board is now presenting accounts for 2005.
“Why is it that within the private sector, many organisations and companies are able within 90 days to present to their annual general meetings audited accounts?”
He went on: “How is it? Barbadians are all gifted; they are all bright.Why is it that the Government cannot meet those standards?” (GE)