A powerful and secretive panel that has spent millions in ratepayer cash with no signoff from the Wellington City Council table is being put under the microscope after the CallActive loan debacle.
The council panel was created in the wake of John Key’s comments that Wellington was dying. It promptly handed out a $300,000 loan to call centre CallActive.
Last week the Office of the Auditor-General confirmed it had received a complaint about the panel’s loan to CallActive.
The panel considers $100,000-plus proposals to the Wellington economic initiatives development fund, from which $9.4 million has been committed in two years without councillor signoff.
About $8m was committed by the panel, with chief executive Kevin Lavery deciding the remaining under-$100,000 proposals.
Councillors are updated only annually on its spending, in a report that has been slammed as “waffle”.
The two reports to date did not include comprehensive lists of recipients, how much they were given, or any economic benefits of the money spent.
This is very sub-standard.
I would expect reports at least quarterly, and full details of recipients, amounts and expected benefits.
Councillor Andy Foster said there was “general disquiet” among councillors about the panel, and the way decisions were made.
“What we’re looking for is a balance between the need for confidentiality and accountability. At the moment it veers very strongly towards confidentiality.”
These are public funds. If a recipient doesn’t want publicity, then they could of course not put their hand out for the money.