What was the purpose of the report?

Tia Belau Editorial, June 11, 2012 —-

Many Palauans with democratic and institutional pride think Olbiil Era Kelulau is being derogated and marginalized by flouting the rule of law, not asserting the relevance of the constitution, and just plain lack of seriousness to the challenges of the job.

A case in point is the report of the just concluded Senate assignment conducted by Senator Camsek Chin on the “Report on the total of grants, aids and stimulus grants awarded to the Republic of Palau from 2002- 2009.”

From the time the Senate officially received the report dated June 6, they wasted no time sending out the report in its entirety the next day June 7 as Senate press release.

What exactly was the purpose of the whole exercise? Was there a genuine interest of the Senate to review the whole grants scheme and how the funds were being used to implement the projects, or was there something else? And what did we hope to gain from the three-page report, including the tables with list of projects and grants amount?

If the rationale was to draw attention to the missing remaining balance of $40,376,452 grant aid from Taiwan, then the reports fails on many fronts. First, merely writing a letter to request information from the Minister of Finance and looking into 2009 audit report as the only basis for the report is not quality work, especially coming from a member of the Senate.

It brings to mind a question of why didn’t just the Senate president direct anyone of his staff to do the report, considering that not much was required for the report anyway. Formally assigning sensitive task to a member of the Senate creates special responsibility that entails methodical work to investigation, research and evaluation.

Second, any professionally done report would have contained a viewpoint of the author on what does it all mean, and to provide recommendations on how to move forward as a result of the collected information. There was none. And no one knows the real explanation behind the inconsistent numbers.

Third, there is still no word from the Senate leadership as to what they intended to do with the report. If millions of dollars are missing, then it should not end with Sen. Chin’s report. The Senate should immediately convene a special committee to investigate in further details of why the discrepancy exists of the appropriated amount and the missing remaining balance.

Or better yet, there is also a structure in the government system that exist with investigative and or prosecutorial powers – Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Special Prosecutor, Office of the Public Auditor – that the Senate can forward any materials that they deemed with good reason that  criminal activity is involved.

Chin’s report is incomplete and for that matter the Senate’s work on the grants and stimulus. If the intention was only to provide a campaign fodder, than they may have succeeded. However, our democratic institutions loses once again, and the Palauan people will never know the truth.

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