30/05/2002

New credit card guidelines issued after Tourist Board probe

The investigation of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s past activities rumbled on today with the heads of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment under fire from concerned members of the Executive’s public spending watchdog.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is investigating the Tourist Board’s “inappropriate” spending in New York alongside an NITB grant to Malone Lodge Hotel and the awarding of a printing contract to a company run by Tourist Board chairman Roy Bailie.

The basis for the investigation came from several Northern Ireland Audit Office reports published this year probing the Board’s procedures.

One report published in February focused on spending in New York and criticised the manager of the NITB New York office for running up a credit card bill of almost £25,000 in the year between April 2000 and March 2001.

The Audit Office said it was surprised the Tourist Board could not provide receipts for more than half the bill.

As a result Treasury Official Leo O’Reilly told the PAC today that new credit card guidelines are set to be issued to all government department bodies.

The New York spending was just one issue that Bruce Robinson, Permanent Secretary of the DETI answered hard-hitting questions upon. Explaining what PAC member Donovan McClelland described as a “very serious breakdown in procedures”, Mr Robinson said the department “recognised that the breadth of the remit of this organisation [NITB] was too wide”.

(AMcE)


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