Tue | Nov 28, 2023

Blame Shaw's accountants

Published:Sunday | July 16, 2017 | 12:00 AM


As justifiable as the uproar over Audley Shaw's phone bill is, there are two essential observations that I take from the saga.

First, anyone who understands administration will easily recognise that oversight, and thus blame for that sort of overrun must rest with the 'accountants' - in a command chain that goes up to the permanent secretary, and not with the minister, even as policymaker.

The assassins will not want to agree, but even if we argue the culpability from a policymaking standpoint, the instituting of a policy cap on an item like phone bills would have had to be triggered by some internal mechanism under the prerogative of the operations financial controller (the financial secretary) and not the minister, who really bears responsibility for watch over the macro spend.

My second observation, I hope, will be more reflective and sobering. As we prowl like wolves and ready ourselves to cast the first stones, we should really introspect as a nation to realise that the phone bill dilemma forcibly reflects to us our own wasteful overconsumption of telecommunications services as individuals and a wider populace. This shocking overspend is much to the detriment of other vital areas of need.

But, I dare not point to us as being equally guilty as having stones in one hand and our own excessive phone bill in the other, since, with my luck, I am the one likely fi get di lick.