Olympic watchers want province to put independent financial auditor in place for 2010 Games 

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Critics of the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee’s quarterly financial plan are renewing their calls for the provincial auditor general to be able to look at the books.

And they want the organization to be open to Freedom of Information requests, which VANOC can currently avoid because it is a non-profit organization.

"What we are suggesting, and we have been recommending to the provincial government to do this for quite some time… is that they require the Auditor General to look over financial statements and give an opinion on their accuracy and whether or not they are comprehensive," said Sara MacIntyre, B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"I would also like VANOC to be covered by FOI laws."

Opposition critic for the Olympics, NDP MLA Harry Bains (Surrey-Newton) has been calling for the same measures.

"My focus is to get the government to be open and transparent with the taxpayers so we can restore the confidence of the taxpayers in the Games, which we are losing right now," said Bains, who would also like to see VANOC open to FOI requests.

"The only way to do that… (is for) an independent body, such as the auditor general to monitor the books and examine the value-for-money and give us a true economic picture of the Games. Then the public knows how much we are paying and what are the benefits for it."

Currently the provincial auditor general is only working on the government’s financial involvement. Calls for the auditor general to be involved in the Games go all the way back to 2003 when the office produced a report on the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

To date the government has not indicated that the auditor general’s role will change.

This is the first of the quarterly reports to be produced by VANOC as it moves into building venues for the Games. Through the 26-page document released last week the public learned that all of the venues would cost more to build than originally estimated in the 2002 bid book.

At that time the bid organization was compelled under International Olympic Committee rules to submit its budget in the dollars of the year it was bidding in.

While it was always clear that the construction would take place in the years after the bid budget was submitted it wasn’t until last November that VANOC organizers began to voice concerns over their ability to build the necessary venues for the original price of $470 million.

In February they revised their budget asking the federal and provincial governments for $55 million each to cover escalating material and labour costs.

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