BVI News

Regular accountability needed for Prospect Reef operations — Audit

What remains of the Prospect Reef Resort on Tortola. (BVI News photo)

An audit report of Prospect Reef Management Company Limited has suggested that the government should insist on having full and regular accountability of the entity’s operations.

The report which was posted on the Commission of Inquiry’s website, also recommended that steps be taken to introduce improved controls and transparency especially in the management of the entities income, expenditure, and bank accounts.

According to the report by Auditor General Sonia Webster, the acquisition of the Prospect properties was viewed by the government as an opportunity to advance culinary arts and hospitality training in the territory on an expedited basis and at a lower cost.

The framework established for managing the properties was designed to provide autonomy in operations and encourage a business approach in moving the project forward.

The Auditor General said this may have resulted in efforts focused on redeveloping and upgrading the property rather than on facilitating and preparing the resort to accommodate training, in the first instance; followed by a phased development plan.

In the end, the report said the government lost the opportunity to provide for, and build on its hospitality/tourism industry in a significant way by making available broad-based training in its second-largest revenue earning sector.

The report said a forensic examination should be commissioned on the activity of the resort for the period 2007 to 2015 and efforts should continue to secure an investor/developer for the properties.

She also said greater flexibility may be required to secure interest, and if possible, the negotiations should include a liaison with the H Lavity Stoutt Community College for collaboration, in the short or medium term, to facilitate hospitality training or internships.

The audit examination further said attempts should be made to recruit a manager for the property to improve the conditions and standards, address issues with staffing delinquency and arrest the constant decline of the government’s investment.

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  1. BVI Future says:

    Accountability needed for all government offices, airport, borders, courts and prison- audit. Since we do not have an operating high school 2017, we should investigate why.

    Like 25
    Dislike 1
  2. rastarite says:

    A great location, wonderful opportunity… It’s been derelict for years – Now’s the time – and get rid of the dolphin cages…

    Like 30
    Dislike 1
  3. Crikey says:

    Another dripping tap that is flushing tax dollars down the drain

    Like 22
    Dislike 1
  4. Just Saying says:

    I mean this might sound stupid, but how about fixing this place up and turn it into the High School and incorporate marine studies for the seniors and also swimming classes ect ? 🤷🏾‍♀️

    Like 26
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    • Deh Watcha says:

      They already have a Marine Studies building that was also properly fitted out with equipment for marine studies. It was or is a first class marine studies Centre that was killed by politics. Built by VIP and somewhat scrapped by NDP. Not sure what happened to all the equipments bought.

      Prospect was supposed to be the fully encompassing hospitality training Centre. But it’s now another project killed by BVI Politics. Prospect was bought by the then NDP administration and when the VIP got in basically scrapped the idea. VIP instead built a culinary building at Paraquita Bay lagoon, which now sits empty and non functioning.

      Like 13
      • small island says:

        From day 1 , I always said it would be a great opportunity to make it a middle school. I would love to see further separation of the schools and this would be a reasonable location.

        Like 5
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        • Deh Watcha says:

          The BVI could probably benefit from a middle school yes. But as far as that Marine Studies Centre, the BVI dropped the ball big time.

          A first class, world class facility.

          • Sense says:

            Nobody in their right mind would place a school on prime waterfront land. Which may explain why there’s one in Carrot Bay and our hurricane shelters are built near the sea!
            We also locate our trash dumpsters next to schools.
            Even a small amount of forethought would help.

  5. DOTS says:

    Open your mouth and tory jump out. We can all hope than after COVID & COI all VIP, NDP and all VIPP can put education in perspective and move all projects forward for the youths of today.

  6. Reclaim says:

    Let the sea and mangroves reclaim Prospect Reef because it is too exposed to the sea and storm surges. Anything built there will be destroyed by the next storm surge so just let nature take over.

  7. redstorm says:

    The Marine Studies in the BVI lack vision. There are so much opportunities that could be garner for the young people in that building. Marine studies of the sea, both on land and on sea. Young people could be trained to become boat/vessel captain, deckhands, engineers, biologist. These employed are not harnessed by the natives it is there country and they should be involved. Many political part turn away from this area, thinking that it is already saturated, so they do little in this industry. Young people should start writing their manifesto for the political part and hold them accountable, by monthly review.

  8. ??? says:

    I am an accountant. All of the AG Reportz made sense until this one. And I have massive amounts of respect for her. However, I think her recommendations in this particular report has a slant of bias.

    Auditors in the process of exercising independence don’t make the kind of recommendations she has made here. They may recommend the client commission a study to conduct cost benefit analysis of the most feasible path(s), but not give specifics as those are management responsibilities and decisions, not the independent auditors. Management in formulating those decision may if they choose to, ask the auditor to review and share his or her thoughts in advance.

    However, 99% of the auditors I have worked with over my very very long career usually would thank management for sharing the information and remain silent until the real audit otherwise, they would later audit work they commenred on. That would fail the independence test. The role Ms. AG is assuming in this case is one of the internal auditor and consultancy which is crossing the line. Ms. AG the BVI people seems to love you. To maintain that respect please reevaluate your role vs. Management and do a reset. If you hired an IPA and they would rewrote that report it was done carelessly and haphazardly which could compromise your office.

    Sometimes we may be in a role that we have done for so long that it gets comfortable and before you know it, we unintentionally cross the independence to management decision making line. That’s why auditors are usually rotated around. I still appreciate the work you do to keep the BVI gov from harming itself, but check you position on this one and at least one other recent report. I dont think the general public has the requisite technical competency to make the call, but do a pause and review for a moment.

    Like 2
    Dislike 2
  9. ??? says:

    You folks can dislike all day long. One thing I can assure you of, is that the majority of readers in the BVI don’t have the technical competency to judge when the auditor has gone into a gray area and crossed the line. The only thing most of you seem to care about is that she sticks it to management and politicians.

    They deserve some of it, but fairness has to be applied accross the board. I don’t have a dog in this fight as I live on mainland US, but grew up in the BVI at least through primary school. I do however have significant years of experience in the same field as your AG. Therefore, I am reading her reports as any joe blow public person.

    There are instances where she has crossed into the “management decision making” territory in formulating her recommendations. The problem is the officials who should be pushing back are in the habit of not responding to the AG so it evelates the positions she has taken. This is most likely becuase they have no clue on how to respond.

    Government should send its accounting and finance staff and Internal auditor to training. There are specific training courses on how to respond to and work with your independent auditors, that goes beyond giving them access to data. Its also about relationships. Sometimes inaction and agression is embrassement over lack of knowledge or “I don’t know how to do my job”. That is what I am concluding from some of the responses given at the COI hearings. This has resulted in the AG shining and government finance managers and staff looking incompetent when that may not be the case. With proper training the staff can challenge some of the things the AG is writing in those reports. Too much power and faith is invested in the AG’s position.

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