Loan writeoff changes need to go further
Kensington –New changes to the rules around the writeoffs of government loans are a small step in the right direction but more needs to be done, says Kensington-Malpeque MLA and Opposition Economic Development and Tourism Critic Matthew MacKay.
Amendments to the Financial Administration Act proclaimed last week now require all loan writeoffs over $25,000 to be publicly disclosed by Cabinet through an Order-in-Council. Previously the public had no way to learn whether public money loaned to the private sector was written off. The 2015 Auditor General’s Report was highly critical of government lending practices and the lack of transparency with the writeoff of millions of tax dollars through bad loans.
“Having more transparency around writeoffs of government loans is something that’s badly needed. The AG Reports into the eGaming scandal and government lending show that. We were the only party to propose disclosing government loan writeoffs in the last election. At first the MacLauchlan government rejected our calls in the House for more transparency but thanks to months of pressure from our Caucus the government finally saw the light and came around,” says MacKay.
MacKay highlighted several Opposition amendments to the legislation to strengthen transparency which were rejected by the MacLauchlan government, including having the law apply retroactively to loans already made. MacKay and the PC Opposition were able to close a loophole that would have made disclosure of loan writeoffs by the MacLauchlan Cabinet optional.
“We know that this government has been highly secretive over the millions of dollars it loans out. That’s why this legislation was such a fight. The changes don’t go as far as we would have liked and as an Opposition we’ll push to further strengthen transparency like adding retroactivity to the bill so past loan writeoffs can also be publicly disclosed. As a first step the MacLauchlan government should be prepared to disclose any loan writeoffs made since the last election,” says MacKay.