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USA Distillers say ‘we are embarrassed’

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By Alec Lushaba - SWAZI OBSERVER-18-Jan-2010

USA Distillers, an ethanol producing company based in Big Bend has come out to state that they were extremely embarrassed by the discovery that they failed to honour the Smart Partnership National Dialogue E50 000 dinner pledge.

On Wednesday the Smart Partnership Secretariat released the National Dialogue, amongst which it recorded a statement of accounts, where USA Distillers appears as having failed to pay the E50 000 they had pledged for one of the evening dinners.

The company’s Technical Director, Barry de Beer, speaking to the Swazi Observer following the Weekend Observer’s publication that E50 000 Smart Partnership money goes missing, stated that they never insisted to the reporter that they had paid. “I told him after verifying with the chairman (Joe Caldeira) and our accounts department that we did not pay the E50 000 pledged and that Mr. Caldeira was greatly embarrassed by that.

“We had hoped that we would make payment after the dinner but we got on with things and forgot. We were not even reminded after the dialogue to make payment. I am not, however, blaming anyone, but stating that we only got to be reminded about when asked by the reporter,” de Beer said. He said Caldeira and his company were still committed to make good of their pledge by paying.

“When I spoke to the reporter on Tuesday or Wednesday, I still recall that I told him that I can confirm that we had made the pledge but I was still going to verify if payment was made. “When I checked we discovered that we had not made the payment and I told him that. The chairman was clearly embarrassed by the situation,” he said.

Smart Partnership Head of Secretariat Martin Dlamini when sought for comment had confirmed that their records had no recollection of USA Distillers making any payment. He said the interim Secretariat was unable to follow up on the pledges because theirs was to put together the dialogue and the report. “Now that the Secretariat has been put in place we will continue to follow up and request that those who made pledges make payments,” he said.

Dlamini said they still needed the money in order to reimburse government.

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