Friday, May 29, 2020

Don't ask, don't tell

Since the government announced its pandemic wage subsidy, there have been regular stories about companies taking it and then sacking or refusing to pay their workers - essentially committing fraud. But how often does this happen? The Minister just doesn't want to know:

Government ministers are not receiving up to date figures on breaches of the $10 billion wage subsidy scheme, and one Minister's office says "it's not something we're interested in".

The government is monitoring how much money is paid out in the wage subsidy and leave payment schemes, but the number of complaints, audits and money paid back is only being provided in quarterly reports.

The Ministry of Social Development refused to provide up-to-date auditing numbers, instead treating RNZ enquiries as an Official Information Act request.

The office of Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development, said that information would only be available at the end of June.

A member of her office said "it's not something we're interested in".

Why aren't they interested? Pretty obviously, its a case of "don't ask, don't tell": the Minister avoiding having to act by purposefully remaining ignorant. Whether this is appropriate governance in the public interest, or an appropriate attitude to serious crime by employers is left as an exercise for the reader.