Dangerous Bacchanal: Rowley Describes Auditor General Imbroglio 

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Caption: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

PIARCO — Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has condemned the escalating conflict between the Ministry of Finance and Auditor General Jaiwantie Ramdas, describing it as an “unnecessary and dangerous bacchanal.” 

The controversy centres on allegations of revenue understatement of $2.6 billion by the Ministry of Finance.

Dr Rowley made his first public remarks on the issue during a news conference at the VIP Lounge of Piarco International Airport, shortly after returning from visits to Ghana and India on Sunday afternoon. 


He expressed surprise and disappointment over the developments, revealing that he was first alerted to the problem in March and had been in constant communication with acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert during his trip.

Dr Rowley said, “I am quite surprised at this development and I am very disappointed that it would have happened. There is an investigation taking place and I, like everybody else, will like to see what the investigation says because this is not the kind of thing that I anticipated.” 

He said, “I don’t take very lightly a public official, especially one involved in audit, telling me and the rest of the world that the minister of finance has been engaged in backdating the books. That is a very, very serious allegation and it has far-reaching consequences.”


Dr Rowley recounted a past incident where an error in reporting gas production by the Ministry of Energy nearly led to an international downgrading by a ratings agency, highlighting the potential repercussions of the current dispute. 

He said, “That was just a number from the Ministry of Energy. So you can imagine when the Auditor General is saying to the world that the Minister of Finance has backdated the finances and all kinds of interpretations are being put on that alleged action.”


Dr Rowley said he has played no role in the matter, stressing, “I just had to look on helplessly as PM. I had no role in it. None whatsoever. Because it is all a matter between office holders who are specifically put to handle specific actions in handling our finance. And no role is there for the office of the PM.” 

He said escalation of the matter was “dangerous bacchanal,” and noted that he would wait until investigation’s findings.

Dr Rowley said, “The way we conduct business as a government, it is my view and I have confidence that people who are reasonable will treat the government’s statements as statements requiring their serious consideration.”


The High Court is set to deliver its ruling on June 3 regarding the Auditor General’s request for judicial review proceedings against the Ministry of Finance and the Cabinet over the decision to appoint an investigative team to probe the $2.6 billion understatement. 

The judicial review application, filed by Ramdass’s attorneys led by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, argues that Finance Minister and acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert’s appointment of the investigative team was unlawful. 

The investigation is being led by retired High Court judge David Harris.


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