Despite a scathing report by Alberta’s auditor general, who chastised the government for missing out on $1 billion a year in oil royalty revenues, his predecessor says that’s not the case.
“To answer the question that is on everyone’s mind, I could find no evidence that the government is miscollecting over a billion dollars in royalties,” said former Auditor General Peter Valentine yesterday, after releasing a new government report that praised the Tories on how they’ve handled the province’s royalties.
Alberta’s current auditor general, Fred Dunn, came down hard on the government in his annual report in October 2007, saying the government identified roughly $1 billion a year in royalties owed by energy companies, but never collected.
“In fact, Alberta is a leader in terms of how the royalty system is evaluated when compared to other jurisdictions,” wrote Valentine in the new report, which included 13 recommendations on how to “enhance” Alberta’s royalty system.
Those recommendations include making new standards to keep track of royalties, along with making sure department staff are kept informed. Valentine’s report also called for the government to make sure decisions are properly explained to the public.
“We’re very serious about accepting these recommendations, and we will move forward with this,” said Alberta Energy Minister Mel Knight.
Both opposition parties said Valentine’s report was a waste of provincial cash, since two reports already looked into the province’s royalty system.
“This report is a way of providing political protection for the government,” said Alberta Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald.
“It’s a political block for a government department that has had a great deal of difficulty.”
Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason says the government “got much of an easier ride” when Valentine was auditor general than what is seen now under Dunn’s watch.