Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Your money, their offices

It's well worth noting that several federal ministerial offices are spending far beyond their budgeted allotment of money. But the bigger story looks to be exactly how they're getting away with it:
Flaherty breached Treasury Board guidelines by overspending by more than $430,000 last year, according to government documents.

Flaherty spent $2,868,222 on his ministerial office in 2009-10, while Treasury Board rules cap spending for ministers with extra regional responsibility and a parliamentary secretary at $2,437,370.
Flaherty's spokeswoman, Annette Robertson, said the minister did not overspend.

Flaherty was granted additional funds to design and co-ordinate the federal government's Economic Action Plan, Robertson said, refusing to say how much he received.

"We neither breached nor overspent our budget, in light of the additional resources granted by (the Treasury Board). We did not exceed the additional amount," she said.
Ministers of State Lynn Yelich, Steven Fletcher and Gary Goodyear also spent between $21,993 and $25,311 over their budget limits.

Staff for Yelich and Goodyear, however, said their ministers were in compliance with Treasury Board allotments.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney appeared to have also overspent, but spokesman Alykhan Velshi said his office received $401,680 in additional funds to support the minister’s multiculturalism portfolio.

"We came more than $300,000 under budget," he said, of the $2,592,046 Kenny spent last year.
Jay Denney, spokesman for Treasury Board President Stockwell Day, said occasionally, the Treasury Board cabinet committee grants ministers extra funds, but he would not confirm which ministers had received additional payments.
Yes, that would be the same Treasury Board which has been engaged in regular attacks on the civil service in a supposed effort to rein in spending.

But when it comes to Con ministerial offices seeking free money, any interest in restraint apparently disappears. And when that willingness to provide handouts is combined with the Treasury Board's refusal to name the recipients of its largesse, it becomes glaringly clear that Day and the Cons see themselves as entitled to hand out publicly-funded goodies in secret - which looks like a far more serious danger than the type of mere mismanagement we've come to expect from Harper's government.

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