June 14, 2022 | By Colin O. Jarrett | There are reports that Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Baroness Patricia Scotland is involved in a bitter dispute with the organization’s Member States on the review if its finances by an independent body.
According to BBC, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the administrative arm of the organization, led by Baroness Scotland – is said to be suppressing an independent review of its finances that is understood to contain criticisms of the way it has been run.
Kevin Isaac, Chairman of the Commonwealth Board of Governors – which represents all member states – said the decision by the secretariat to withhold the report was an affront to the board’s authority.
According to a report from a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat, said it had factual concerns about the report.
In a letter, seen by the BBC, Mr Isaac, who is High Commissioner for St Kitts & Nevis in London, wrote that the position taken by the secretariat demonstrates an indifference to the board’s oversight authority.
The dispute comes as Commonwealth heads of government gather this week in Rwanda for a summit where they will decide if they want Baroness Scotland to have a second term of office.
Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Kamina Johnson- Smith, is standing against Baroness Scotland and has the declared backing of seven member states, including India and the UK.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told MPs on Tuesday that the UK is backing Johnson-Smith to ensure that the Commonwealth delivers for all its members in areas such as trade, investment and defending democracy.
Earlier this year the Commonwealth Board – which makes decisions on behalf of heads of government in between summits – asked Baroness Scotland’s secretariat to commission an independent review into the way the organization was financed.
According to Mr Isaac’s letter, addressed to all 53 other Commonwealth governors, the review was designed to advise on how to put the secretariat on a more sustainable financial footing.
Some Commonwealth member states have reduced the amount of money they give to the secretariat, with total funding for the body falling over the last decade from about 50 million pounds to about 30 million pounds.
An international consulting firm was commissioned to carry out the review and its report was finally delivered to the secretariat on June 1.
But since then the secretariat has reportedly refused to share the report with the board. The News Centre of Vision Newspaper will continue to follow this developing story.
Colin O. Jarrett is Caribbean News Editor with Vision Newspaper