Waiver giveaway a mystery

| 15/10/2015 | 46 Comments
Cayman News Service

Garnet Harrison, Acting Auditor General

(CNS): Exactly how much money government gives away in duty waivers is impossible to establish, the acting auditor general found in the latest report on the management of public cash, which reveals yet more weaknesses in the system. In his first report as the independent public auditor, Garnet Harrison said that he was “dismayed” by the poor record keeping relating to waivers that have been granted and that his office could not complete its work as there was no way to ascertain how much cash has been given away.

The report, “Collecting Government Revenues”, raises a number of issues and inefficiencies regarding the collection of taxes and fees due to government. But one of the main concerns identified was the complete lack of records around giveaways.

Harrison said he was particularly concerned about the lack of an effective management framework for the processing of revenue waivers.

“The lack of systems and documentation we found during the audit should be of great concern to legislators, who would expect that decisions made are based on clearly documented criteria applied in a fair and consistent manner,” the report states.

As a result of poor procedures, poor controls and poor record keeping, the auditors were unable to work out how much revenue government did not collect over at least the last five years. There has been no transparency or accountability for the decisions, the audit team found, even though the information is required for government to prepare its financial statements.

“Government officials have not been acting in accordance with the Public Management and Finance Law,” said the acting auditor general. “I am dismayed at the lack of proper record keeping for this important role in the Ministry of Finance. No one knows how much revenue has been lost to the public purse or whether government officials and politicians have acted improperly by forgiving certain revenues. No one will ever know.”

Although the report indicates that overall government is generally collecting revenue as it is supposed to in line with the law, there are several inefficiencies and the audit makes seven recommendations that government has generally agreed to implement.

Among the problems identified, it appears the lack of information and justification for waivers is the most serious as waivers do not appear to have been treated fairly, consistently or transparently.

“We did not find a defined or documented process, including the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, for assessing the applications prior to approval,” Harrison said in the report. Because of the poor records the auditors could not quantify the value of revenue waivers or establish whether revenue waivers that were granted had been approved appropriately.

He said government should formalise policies and procedures to provide documented and consistent roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for all parts of the revenue waiver process, including a set of decision criteria on which to assess revenue waiver applications and a formalised records management process, which in its management response the government acknowledged and agreed.

OAG Report – Collecting Government Revenues, September 2015

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (46)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The question I would like answered is when will we see audits related to this administration they have been almost 3 years in office and not one report on them. What kind of independence does this audit office really have. SMH

    • Anonymous says:

      Well I guess they have to get through the Maclog first. Makes no sense to work backwards. PPMs turn will come too.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There are project managers that ought to be called back into the boardroom, fault properly established and ascribed, and people fired. We need to demand a culture of responsibility if we want to get it. Petition that!

    • Anonymous says:

      This is how to cut out the crap in the Civil Service and make it more efficient. Hail the day… But I won’t hold my breath

  3. Anonymous says:

    what is a mystery to me is why was my doctor rolled over or 2 of my kids teachers were sent packing I want the true reason so I don’t have to wonder anymore
    building wavers giveaway that’s no mystery give away 20 collect 10 its a no brainer
    These are just some of the reasons people are so upset with cayman

  4. Anonymous says:

    Good start Mr. Now continue to close the hatch, what about RCIP expenditure.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Duty waivers is peanuts. The real savings is in having access to a church since everything for the church is 100% duty free.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup, one of the biggest real estate empires in the USA was built by claiming to be a religion. Avoiding taxes can add between 20 to 40 percent to your bottom line.

      Churches should be treated just like any other business. Long gone are the days when they played a significant role in social work.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How is it that a developer who never paid the CIG $6,000,000.00 which was owed, is now give duty waivers on a new project just south of town. To me that is inexcusable.

  7. Anonymous says:

    yeay…another glorious day for the civil service…any comment franz???………..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Oh ya says:

      Yes let’s watch and see what Franz does. Has anyone really observed what is happening in the civil service since he took over? You see senior persons leaving? persons who we have been complaining about for years. No more promotions by favor …no political appointees. But Franz does not blow his horn. Remember when he was at immigration and the constant deportations and dismissals . Just watch. This man doesn’t joke. Ask one of the persons who report to him how nice he is.

      Yes let’s watch.

    • Big Fan says:

      Of course our Deputy Governor is ultimately responsible for these failing and I have no doubt that he will fix it. But these failing have been around of years and he has been DG for 3 years. He can’t fix everything overnight like the CNS posters can.

      He has developed new systems for projects management and we have seem the large projects like Port Airport and Landfill all move along following best practise. Performance management has been overhauled and for the first time since 2004 all government accounts were audited. With a record number of unqualified opinions

      He has ensured only highly qualified Caymanians have been placed in key roles.

      Just a few of his accomplishments.

      Not bad for 3 years. Can’t wait to see what the next 3 years brings.

      And for those who refused to read the report …This was actually the best report given by the AG in years ….even he admitted that Government was doing a good job collecting revenue but found fault with the system of giving waivers.

      Not a bad idea to actually read the report.

      • seriously? says:

        The requirement to follow process for major projects was mandated by a guy from the FCO called Richard Holmwood and further mandated under the PMFL through the framework for fiscal responsibility, nothing to do with the Franz.

        The first set of financials were prepared back in 2011 under the direct leadership of Donnie Ebanks (who led the committee to do it), noting to do with Franz who has had no participation in the process.

        His performance management system that you are referring to is a spreadsheet from a guy in POCS, ask any Civil Servant what they fill out on an annual basis.

        It’s so easy to sell you guys the kool aid isn’t it? I guess ignorance is truly bliss.

        • Deb says:

          Seriously ….you have some good info and you are right. Donnie started the work on improved financial mgt and then left the service since 2012. Since that time the work that he did has been built on and improved by Franz.

          And yes a guy in POCS have developed a performance management system which until Franz took over only 17% of the civil service completed. Today it’s 100%

          Go ahead and hate Franz all you want but you can’t deny the facts of his accomplishments.

          • anonymous says:

            What you have is 100% of people who have filled out the cells in a spreadsheet, if you think that is performance management you have a few things to learn.

            Ask the average civil servant what is in their performance agreement or how meaningful the process of performance evaluation is and they’ll probably give you a good laugh.

            There is none so blind as (s)he who refuses to see, stats is one thing, but I can tell you for sure, there is little in terms of performance management happening on the ground. Managers just make sure everyone submits something so they can get someone off their backs but trust me, the entire exercise is basically meaningless.

            Some advice to Franz, empower people, support managers in a meaningful way and worry less about optics and painting lipstick on the pig. I know you drew a terrible hand of card, but playing poker face and pretending that everything is okay is not what is going to win this game.

            • Kenny says:

              You sound like a civil servant …tell us what you doing to help Franz

            • Anonymous says:

              That is emphatically NOT how my performance evaluation goes, 2:33. 15 years ago yes, but not today, and I am not a fan of Franz Manderson, just saying what happens in my ministry. The sad thing is the civil service and Manderson haters out there will give you enthusiastic thumbs up without having a clue what really goes on.

          • Anonymous says:

            Donnie was also the man who signed off on the Tempura/Cealt expenses and then tried to block Dan Duguay’s audit into them.

  8. Anonymous says:

    If there is scope for abuse we should assume it was being abused. More money flowing out of CIG coffers and into the back pockets of cronies. And as soon as this loophole is closed another will open because nobody ever looks back, names names or tries to get the money back. If you’re not caught red handed you are free and clear. The only way that will ever change is if the people give the powers that be no choice.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Prediction by a retiring civil servant in 1980 – “I feel sorry for you all, this country will be run by idiots!” That prediction has completely come to pass since about 10 years ago!!

    • Anonymous says:

      There were plenty of idiots (including alcoholic ones) running the country in 1980, 1:53.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nothing has changed then…

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually, I think it has changed very considerably for the better though no one wants to believe that. But if you go back to the days when the poster at 1:53 mentions and look at some of the Principal Secretaries, Director of Tourism and his deputy (still in the civil service) and other positions I don’t want to mention, you will find some people with no academic qualifications and just the fact they had joined the civil service when they were straight out of school or back from serving at sea and-trust me- there was some truly amazing drinking (including at lunchtime) and consequent lack of work went on. They could not cope in any way with the new more sophisticated Cayman.

  10. Anonymous says:

    No wonder we’re going bankrupt. Oops! Did I say that out loud? Shhhhhh No one knows yet.

  11. frustrated tax payer says:

    This is so sad and frustrating, every day I have to pay taxes in this country and it seems every day I discover more and more that the people who gets paid with those taxes are sitting on their bahinds all day doing nothing.

    Did we not have a system in place to track this? Did we not think it was important or did someone simply not do their job?

    Where is the leadership, where is the accountability, paying taxes isn’t optional for me, why is it optional for Civil Servants to do their jobs?

    Guess I’m flogging a dead horse, I’ll just go sit and imagine what it would be like if there was actual accountability, I think that’s what was said right? Imagine the Civil Service we want smh

    • Anonymous says:

      They won’t even put punch in, punch out clocks to help them come to work on time and leave on the right time, shame on you D. G.

  12. Bob Barker says:

    Marco and PPM continuing the same slackness of McKeeva and UDP in the giveaway of much needed revenue. Sweet Jesus help us!

    “the more things change the more they stay the same”

  13. Anonymous says:

    We need more accountability. Any duty waivers should be pre-audited by the AG’s office.

  14. anonymous says:

    We have an entire section called the Corporate Unit in the Ministry of Finance that is responsible for processing waivers. Where is the accountability for years of getting paid top dollars and not doing your damn job. Any comment Marco? This is your Ministry after all isn’t it?

  15. Anonymous says:

    This goes back to the days of when George McCarthy was Chief Secretary and Donovan Ebanks was Deputy Governor. There was no accountability then as no one was disciplined or fired for having a lack of financial records. And I dare to say that, now that Franz Manderson is in charge, there will be no accountability or disciplinary action taken now against those who failed to keep proper records. If anything, they will be promoted by Franz as Mary Rodriguez was after the document-altering scandal.

    Lets watch and see what Franz does.

    • anonymous says:

      Definitely agree, Ministry of Finance needs a serious shake up, every audit report that comes out finds systemic weaknesses in that Ministry, can someone tell us what is going on? Does the Deputy Governor have this on his agenda or is it just business as usual?

    • Anonymous says:

      Franz will mutter some mutterings, say he will do something and then do nothing. That is his modus operandi.

      • Uncivil Servant says:

        A 5K. For sure there needs to be a 5K. That will fix this for good.

        • Debbie says:

          You are uncivil and unkind …I was happy to support our special Olympic athletes…I bet you didn’t. Uncivil is one thing unkind and mean is another. Thank you Deputy Governor for the DG 5k. I will support you again next year.

          We know you will sort this mess out and you can’t do it all one time.

    • Anonymous says:

      There was never a time when “George McCarthy was Chief Secretary and Donovan Ebanks was Deputy Governor”. That comment is so staggeringly wide of the mark I guess we can disregard the rest of it.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are right of course they weren’t in those positions at the same time but I don’t think that’s what the poster meant. But the problem is a very old one in the civil service-we do not do accountability unless you are a foreigner and can have your contract not renewed. Caymanians go on for ever.

      • Anonymous says:

        12:38at15/10: I am pretty sure that George MCCarty was Chief Secretary at oneoint and that Donovan Ebanks WAS Deputy Governor at one point. Possibly you should double check your facts?

        • Anonymous says:

          But not at the same time, as the poster’s comment seemed to say. Maybe he just can’t express himself unambiguously.

    • Anonymous says:

      It goes back before those two. Of course neither of them would have detected anything out of order being involved in other “schemes”.

      Franz is a huge disappointment and Mary is known for fudging the reports.

      Another day at the Funny Farm.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Bring on a Caymanian auditor, all this will be fine with him.

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