HALIFAX, NS – Progressive Conservative finance critic Tim Houston has asked the Auditor General to perform a forensic audit on the $5 million settlement paid by the McNeil Liberals to the Lunenburg Shipyard Alliance.
The settlement was paid to the Alliance despite expert advice that some of the claims were questionable and shouldn’t be paid. The government claims this recent transaction is par for the course, despite the fact the project is millions over budget and years delayed. When asked about the payment, local MLA Suzanne Lohnes-Croft said, “We’ve moved on.”
Houston says taxpayers haven’t moved on.
“The government spent this money and hid details about the settlement for months,” says Houston. “Today, I am calling on the Auditor General to assure Nova Scotians that this latest spend is a good use of tax dollars. A lot of money has been sunk into this project already, and the secrecy around this decision to spend even more has people asking a lot of questions.”
During the most recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, it was revealed that the government paid $2.9 million in claims, an amount far in excess of what a consultant recommended and without all supporting documentation. In addition, a settlement was made for $1.7 million for reputational damage and lost opportunities to the company.
“The Auditor General is the defender of the public interest and is responsible for holding the government to account for its management of public funds,” says Houston. “The information that’s been uncovered about this deal calls into question whether taxpayer money was spent appropriately, and I think we need to get to the bottom of this.”