They returned the money!

After a week of harsh criticisms of their decision to collect Christmas bonuses and incentives without having served the minimum three months on the job, the members of the Chamber of Accounts, the body in charge of auditing government, decided to return the money. In a press release issued on Friday afternoon, the nine members of the Chamber of Accounts said that their decision “had been deeply considered in the face of the different opinions expressed in the mass media.”

They said that they were aware of the “responsibilities and hopes” that have been pinned on their new positions, and they confirmed “the promise to provide the hoped for strengthening of the institution.”

“Finally,” they said, “we believe it proper and prudent to say that we humbly regret the disappointment that all Dominicans, to whom we are indebted as public servants, have felt as a result of this situation.”

Prior to this announcement, the Chamber of Accounts issued a paid advertisement published in several newspapers defending the “legality” of their decision, on the grounds that both they and the Central Electoral Board were exempt from the three-month rule. The president of the Chamber of Accounts, Licelott Marte de Barrios had been vocal in her defense of the decision, saying that the criticism was politically motivated.

The criticism came about after the press reported that the full board of the Chamber of Accounts, under the leadership of Licelott Marte de Barrios, had approved a complete Christmas bonus equal to RD$281, 973, plus an “incentive” of an equal amount as their Christmas bonus, and their RD$281,973 wage for the month, plus other perks, such as a RD$58,000 stipend for gasoline.

In total, the Chamber of Account members announced they would return around RD$5 million to the Treasury.

The new CC members were appointed just last 9 October after their predecessors were submitted to a sort of impeachment process in the Senate primarily for seeking personal benefits and their low productivity while serving on the board.

Senate president Reinaldo Pared Perez (PLD-National District) excused the judges of the auditing department, on the grounds that as humans they could make errors, and that they had rectified their mistake by returning the money. He said the matter was now closed.

Senator Wilton Guerrero (PLD-Peravia) says, “In my opinion, the members of the Chamber of Accounts have disqualified themselves before the country, in the same way as their predecessors did and so should be treated with the same penalty.” The predecessors resigned or were fired.

PRSC deputy Rafael Molina Lluberes said in Congress that the Chamber of Deputies should open an investigation into the affairs of the Chamber of Accounts. “If they made that blunder, we would expect that other things will be found,” he said.

The new members of the Chamber of accounts are Licelot Marte de Barrios, Pablo del Rosario, Ivan Rondon Sanchez, Juan Jose Heredia Corporan, Jose Nicolas Almanzar, Jorge Suncar Morales, Pedro Ortiz Hernandez, Jose Attias and Juan Luis Seliman. Several of them had worked in other posts in government and private institutions had been issued their corresponding Christmas bonuses.