The Chief Minister is coming under further pressure to provide more detail on his spending plans, with five politicians banding together to demand full transparency.
The demand comes in the form of an open letter from Senator Kristina Moore, Constable Mike Jackson and Deputies Kirsten Morel, Rob Ward and Mary Le Hegarat – each of whom chairs a panel tasked with reviewing the viability of a separate aspect of the Government Plan.
Published in July, the Government Plan makes bold pledges including a £10m affordable housing scheme and £91m to be invested in schools, the Future Hospital project, cybersecurity and solving the question of what to do with Fort Regent.
But this, the plan states, will only be possible if the government can make cuts and savings of £100million over the next four years to avoid accounts slipping into the red.
Pictured: The Chief Minister had already been criticised for the lack of detail provided about the £100m 'Efficiencies Programme'.
The Chief Minister has already come under criticism over the scarcity of information provided about the ‘Efficiencies Programme’ and the late stage at which it was due to be provided.
But now he’s facing further disapproval over the “lack of detail”, “frequent use of jargon” and “lack of consistency” across the spending proposals, which include new investment of £81million and capital spending of £90million.
According to the Scrutiny Chairs’ open letter: “The business cases do not provide sufficient information for us to make a judgement on the proposed expenditure. In general, they explain why the funds are needed, but not what they will be spent on.”
The group also expressed concern over “the level of oversight” during the development of the proposals, noting: “Some of the business cases provide relatively little information for significant amounts bid for. Others provide a great deal of information for relatively small amounts.”
By way of example, Deputy Morel pointed out that one of the funding explanations for £20million of spending had been described in as few as seven words: “Replacement costs of various IT infrastructure assets.”
As we debate changes to the time frame for lodging amendments to the government plan in @StatesAssembly I thought islanders might like to see my favourite page in the govt plan. There's nothing like describing the reasoning behind £20 million of spending with just 7 words!!!! pic.twitter.com/OCfTCBkVts— Kirsten Morel (@KirstenJersey) September 10, 2019
Concluding their letter to the Chief Minister, the scrutineers state that, while they were now being given some more information about the spending plan, “we would have preferred to see a better quality of information” provided to them at an earlier stage “in order to ensure open and transparent scrutiny of the proposals.”
They continued: “In addition to providing the missing information, please could you explain why these details were not provided in the Government Plan document from the outset. Please also explain how you intend to improve your processes to ensure that we are not in this situation again when the next Government Plan is prepared.
“Finally, we would be grateful if ministers and officers could make every effort to be available to provide evidence to Panels at the dates and times we request. We are beginning to encounter difficulties regarding the availability of some ministers over the coming weeks and it is vital that we able to take evidence within the short window we have to complete our work.”
The Government Plan is due to be debated and voted on by States Members in October.
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