SKNIS Photo: Prime Minister Harris at his March 15th Press Conference
Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 15, 2016 (SKNIS): Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris today, March 15, announced thatErnst & Young, an international accounting firm, has been enlisted by the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) to perform a review of its operations for the period 2010 to 2015.
“Ernst & Young is one of the largest and top four internationally acclaimed accounting firms, which also provides other management support and services,” revealed the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister said that this is necessary in order to provide a clear picture to the current Board of Councillors as to the income and expenditure of the Foundation during the period from 2010 to 2015.
“This review will identify, in the first instance, the major projects and the basis whereby they received funding and whether such funding was in accordance with the SIDF’s mandate and in keeping with its own enabling legislation,” said Prime Minister Harris. “I am informed by the SIDF that a preliminary report is expected from Ernst & Young around mid-June, July”
The Prime Minister stated that over $ 1 billion was reportedly injected into the Foundation through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI) and that the financial statements for the SIDF for the period ending 2013 were qualified by Grant Thornton, Chartered Accountants.
“A qualified report is indicative of a material concern on the part of the auditor to which the reader’s attention is drawn,” Prime Minister Harris explained. “This exercise which the SIDF has now embarked upon can only redound to the benefit of the people of St Kitts and Nevis. It will provide us all with a clear picture as to what has been done with the inflows into the Foundation, and clarify whether the actions taken over the years were in the best interest of the country.”
In addition, he said that there should be a better understanding of the matters surrounding the SIDF’s involvement in projects such as Kittitian Hill and Christophe Harbour and the extent of “profligacy” by the SIDF.
Prime Minister Harris said that if the review reveals that the Foundation was properly managed, “then we the citizens of St Kitts and Nevis can put aside our concerns and suspicions and focus on improving the policies and procedures which govern this most important and significant source of income, so that in the future we would have no cause to doubt or suspect.”
He added that “if the review discloses mismanagement or misbehaviour, then the SIDF will bring these matters to the attention of the relevant authorities, and appropriate action will be taken.”