Close to $70M of IMF financing directed to SOE subventions, auditor general report notes

Close to $70M of IMF financing directed to SOE subventions, auditor general report notes
The International Monetary Fund.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An auditor general’s report into the usage of a $250 million disbursement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revealed that state-owned enterprises (SOEs) received close to $70 million in subventions or 28 percent of the rapid financing instrument (RFI) total.

The report tabled in Parliament yesterday noted that $69.91 million of the $250 IMF RFI was disbursed to various SOEs such as Bahamasair, the University of The Bahamas (UB), the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) and the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA), which received $34.31 million or 13.732 percent of the total IMF RFI.

The IMF approved the RFI for disbursement on June 1, 2021, as the government sought to meet the urgent balance of payment needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the financing was also allocated to cover Hurricane Dorian-related expenses, with $23.78 million or 10 percent of the funds being allocated for that purpose, the report revealed.

“With respect to Hurricane Dorian, $1.65 million was disbursed for rental accommodations, food assistance as well as furniture and office products,” the auditor general’s report noted.

“Overall for the Social Services Department, the $1.65 million disbursement for hurricane Dorian and the $2.33 million for COVID totaled $3.99 million, an equivalent of two percent of the $250 million IMF RFI.”

The report further noted that vendor payments for goods and services and external financing in the overseas market accounted for $29.67 million or 12 percent of the RFI.

According to the report, the bulk of $33.66 million or 13 percent of the financing was spent to purchase government vehicles, monthly salary deductions and the repayment of hurricane loan salary deductions.

The Ministry of Finance, according to the report, expended $30.69 million of the financing for “its own operational and contractual obligations”. The report also noted that transactions accounted for directly under the COVID-19 established account totaled $17.89 million.

In June of last year, $10 million of the IMF financing went to the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), the auditor general noted.

The report concluded with the auditor general noting that the US $250 million RFI was “essential in providing budgetary support and sustaining the healthcare and mitigation measures in response to COVID-19”.