Here’s one that falls squarely into the category of ‘plus ça change….’ We have yet another political leader opting not to take his own advice.
While in opposition, the Nova Scotia Jobs Fund was a sore point for Stephen McNeil and the Liberals, and they argued it should be handled by an arm’s-length body. Now the premier has come out saying Thursday his cabinet will continue to pull the strings on the fund that provides taxpayers’ money as business loans.
A day after auditor general Jacques Lapointe said in a report that the fund is lacking in management and accountability, McNeil says it will be different under his government. In response to Lapointe’s finding, the premier said deals will be put on the table for all to see. His government, as well, plans legislation to strengthen rules surrounding such financial assistance and to increase transparency for the public, with such transactions reported online.
These are the assurances allotted the public to allow the Jobs Fund to remain in the hands of Cabinet, which in essence means within the grasp of one political party.
This is especially troubling given the recent history in this province of business loans that have been questioned. But, this government says it’s determined to fix any holes.
It makes one wonder: just what does gives a provincial cabinet the idea it has the expertise to pick potential winners from the world of entrepreneurs? For the same reason that government should not be in the business of doing business, investment of public money in private enterprise would be better handled by experts in enterprise.
Explanations of who was chosen to receive money and why will only go so far when it comes from a government cabinet. The perception among the public remains that some sort of favouritism is involved.
There are very good reasons for having an arm’s-length entity run such programs, in that they provide a neutral medium in distributing money that belongs to the public.