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Community Grant Crackdown Overdue

Community Grant Crackdown Overdue

Tuesday 30 March 2004 - Dr Muriel Newman

Cabinet may have cracked down on the CEG's Social Entrepreneur grants, but it still needs to come clean over what action it has taken to address the Audit Office's damning criticisms over the Government's allocation of taxpayer-funded grants, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"The recent controversy over the CEG grants has clearly highlighted the flaws in the Government's grant approval processes," Dr Newman said.

"But these issues are not new. Last year - following a review launched in tandem with the investigation into money received by former ACT MP Donna Awatere Huata - the Audit Office issued a damning report about a lack of adequate checks and balances on money given out by various Government agencies.

"The CEG scandal shows that Labour seems to have simply ignored this report. Money given for such spurious initiatives like overseas hip-hop research - which even the grant recipient admitted amounted to nothing - seems to have been dished out with little or no consideration for community benefit, or value for money.

"This is absolutely disgraceful. Not only are these agencies handing out taxpayers' money, but they are doing so in the knowledge that they should be taking more care. This is not incompetence; this is blatant disregard for public money.

"Cabinet's crack down is just the first step - one which should have been taken last year. This afternoon I will be writing to the Social Services Select Committee, asking that the Labour Department be requested to attend our next meeting and brief us on exactly what steps have been taken since it received the Auditor-General's report last year.

"It is time to front up. Taxpayers need an assurance that their money is being spent in ways that will benefit the community, not on frivolous initiatives with dubious public value," Dr Newman said.


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