Auditors offer reality check on ministry boast

| 17/07/2015 | 9 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has pointed out that for government audits to provide proper accountability for taxpayers’ cash, the government’s accounts not only need to be credible but produced on time. Following the health ministry’s recent boast that it had received its first ever unqualified audit on its financial report for the 2012/13 year, the public auditors noted that all of the CIG financial statements should be completed and submitted for audit and published within six months of the year end.

While the milestone of achieving its first ever clean audit demonstrates progress, it is still far short of what the law requires.

“Audited financial reports are prepared by public sector entities to provide accountability for the use of funds and for making decisions around spending going forward. In order for financial statements to meet these objectives, accounting standards require financial reports to meet certain criteria, which include being issued in a timely manner,” a spokesperson from the OAG told CNS this week.

“A balance needs to be struck between the credibility of the information contained in the financial reports and the timeliness of its availability for use by decision makers and other stakeholders. Government needs to consider whether the appropriate balance was achieved by issuing these financial statements nearly two years after the year end, and whether this provided effective accountability and useful information to decision makers.”

While government has come a long way over the last few years, the level of chaos and delinquency government financial statements had reached means that even with the amount of progress made, the government is still a long way from meeting the lawful requirements for public accountability regarding how it spends over $650 million of taxpayers’ cash.

The health ministry was bragging about the fact that it had finally been able to improve the quality of its information, but the almost two year delay in receiving its clean bill of accounting health from the auditor means the more accurate account is considerably less valuable to legislators and policy makers as the statements have come too late to inform budget considerations.

What’s more, the reports are still not in the public domain as the financial reports must be tabled in the Legislative Assembly before they can be made available to the broader public.

The health ministry’s failure to submit the necessary information on time for the auditors to do their work is not confined to that portfolio. Many government entities are still unable to supply the necessary quality of information in a timely manner in order to see audits completed and reports made public within six months of the year end.

With the close of the 2014/15 financial year, government’s bean counters should now be preparing their year-end accounts in preparation to submit full financial statements to the OAG by the end of next month. However, some are still working with the auditor on the 2013/14 accounts and several of those reports that are completed have still not been made public as they have not reached the floor of the Legislative Assembly.

While chief financial officers have improved their ability to submit accounts on time, the auditor general’s team continues to complain that ministries and portfolios and some government companies and authorities are still not submitting a sufficient amount of information by the deadline. This means the auditors are not able to do their work as they must continually request further information. This not only continues to delay the final clearance of specific government departments reports but it also impacts government’s ability to produce any meaningful consolidated accounts on time either.

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (9)

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  1. says:

    Island girl thank you so much…. this is breath of fresh air. The civil service has improved so much over the past few years. All financial statements delivered on time and now the quality is outstanding. so much is wrong with the private sector look at the corruption arrests…. not anyone in the civil service. but who do we depend on to make the arrests…. the civil service. Come on AG give credit where it is due.

  2. Government Incompetency says:

    So why are Ministers, CFO’s and Ministry staff still holding their jobs if they are unable to do something as simple as producing accounts information in a timely manner. Wonder if they would still be working if this was done in the private sector.

    Mr. Archer is always bragging about the job being done, but I really wonder if primary school children could do a better job. You explain to the children that this is the money you have to spend and at the end of the year you got to show how that money was spent – YES IT IS THAT SIMPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      “if this was done in the private sector”…You mean the same private sector that gives us CUC, 8:41? Will Richard Hew lose his job or even his bonus over the latest outrageous service cuts and appalling customer relations? Anyone else at CUC have their employment affected? NO!!! Of course not, so stop with these nasty unjustified civil service diatribes (look it up) and the equally unjustified sucking up to the private sector.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, it’s that simple.

    • Island girl says:

      There is one comment that keeps coming up quite frequently and it is ” this could not happen in the private sector” well here is a news flash- it happens all the time . The one thing that the private sector and public sector has in common is human beings. I have worked in private sector all of my working life and now reaching retirement and I can tell you that it does happen in the private sector. For you or any one else to say this rubbish you must have amnesia or you never worked in the private sector or any sector for that matter. What happened to private sector worker when they have to be releaved from their job because of incompetence, or stealing , and I am not just referring to the local bank clerk but the Manager who had to be quietly let go. They don’t call it stealing, they prefer to say misappropriation. What about those who come in early, walk around all day and does nothing, then when 5:00 rolls around they get busy and put in overtime? Then there are those who go for 2/3 hours lunch and work late to make up the time and put in for overtime? What about the problems they create in the business because they don’t really know what they are doing- don’t get their CIMA Reports in on time, They fudge the balance sheets and of course, private sector auditors can’t even pick up on it. What about the private sector General Manager taking 40 percent of the bonus and splitting the 60 percent between the rest of staff. What about the private sector manager going to lunch and coming back to work so full of alcohol that it’s unbearable to work near . Now don’t get me wrong, this does not happen in all private sector businesses but believe me it does happen. Now that I have your attention I will turn to the benefit of the public sector on your business. I cannot think of one private sector business that can function without the assistance of the public sector. can you? When you or someone you know are counting up your profits at the end of the month remember you could not have done it without the public sector. They matter and most of them do a really great job every day. Of course like the private sector there are some who could step it up but neither sector could do what they do without the other. I suspect you will continue to make your silly comments but now you know better.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Uh uhhhh; burst Alden and Franz balloon.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Window Dressing” these press releases. Cayman don’t need rose-glass reports, we need TRUTH. The people didn’t elect them to tell lies and neglect the work (promised) to the Caymanian People. They were hired by the people of this Country! Not foreign interest (for personal gains); the Caymanian People!

      Keep setting them straight Mr. Auditor General.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, this mess is NOT new! It has gone on for so long that we should not expect it to be cleaned up in any faster than it is going. AT least the obvious is FINALLY being addressed and I congratulate the current government for attempting to get us back on a transparent avenue. Too much has been unaccounted for too many terms of governance.

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