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No more honour statements, ministers will pay if they do not account for travel advances-Finance Minister

by Zena Henry

The Ministry of Finance has put in place new measures to tighten possible squandering and dishonesty in relation to government officials travel allowances and advances effective June 16, 2015.

This revelation comes as government defended itself against a newspaper article claiming that the new government was setting to pay themselves big time when going on state business overseas.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan Friday August 7 strongly denied the article before saying that the system has gotten so tight since the new government took office, that ministers would no longer account for unaccounted travel advances with ‘honour statements’ and will now be demanded to repay some 60 percent of the travel advances if no receipts are provided for the expenditure.

To avoid that problem about clearing advances in the future, Jordan said the government has discontinued the practice of signing honour statements in lieu of presentation of bills. “In the past-up to May, before the new government entered, (ministers) could have signed a honour statement saying I spent the money and I have no bills -and the advance would have been cleared. Now, that practice has been stopped, you cannot sign anymore honour statements.”

Jordan continued, “If you (minister) do not bring bills or you only bring part to substantiate your expenditure you will be required to repay 60 percent of the advance,” he charged.

“So contrary to what people believe that we are raiding the treasury and so on, we are tightening up on this particular aspect of travel.”

Jordan went on to say that a significant number of former (PPP/C) ministers are still to clear travel advances with the treasury. Some of these advances are more than a year old and is creating the problem of recovering travel advances.

He urged these former ministers to clear their advances or face the Accountant General taking “drastic measures” against them.

Jordan also went into detail to show that there has been no increase in government officials’ travel allowances or advances. He explained that the fees have remained the same as that under the former administration according to the category of officials. He pointed to certain changes however that improves accounting for advances and allowances.