Gov’t years behind with audits

Government ministries and portfolios are up to two years behind in submitting financial statements for auditing, Auditor General Dan Duguay has confirmed.

Auditor General Dan Duguay

Auditor General Dan Duguay

Many statutory authorities are also behind in their reporting obligations, but they are generally faring better than government.

Mr. Duguay confirmed the delays last week, saying it means the public are being denied accountability and transparency in government spending.

Under the Public Management and Finance Law, government ministries and portfolios are required to submit financial statements to the Auditor General within two months of the end of the financial year.

Mr. Duguay’s office has now received financial statements from most government agencies for the 2004-05 financial year but few for the 2005-06 financial year.

None have submitted 2006-07 financial statements, which were due 1 September.

After the Auditor General’s office audits the statements, they are sent to the Financial Secretary so a government annual report can be made public, outlining the performance of core government and the entire public sector.

The idea is to compare what happened with what was proposed at the beginning of the financial year.

Mr. Duguay questioned how legislators can confidently vote for new funds for different government entities if they don’t know what they did with the last allocation.

The public also has a right to know if government is spending money in the way it said it would, he continued.

‘We all contribute to government and at the end of the day we have an interest in how much is being spent and where it is being spent,’ said Mr. Duguay.

One of the most behind schedule is the Ministry of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture, which has not yet submitted full financial records for the 2004-05 financial year, Mr. Duguay explained.

The Ministry of Health and Human Services also have financial statements from the 2004-05 year outstanding, Mr. Duguay confirmed.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most up-to-date is the Auditor General’s office, which is audited externally by Price WaterhouseCoopers. Mr Duguay also praised the Office of the Complaints Commissioner, and the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Investment and Commerce and the Portfolio of Legal Affairs.

Among the tardiest statutory authorities are the HSA, the Public Services Pensions Board and Cayman Airways.

Best performers include the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, the Water Authority, the National Roads Authority and the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company.

‘Our success story is with authorities and some of the authorities are right up to date,’ explained Mr. Duguay.

He conceded it had taken some government ministries and portfolios a while to get used to submitting output statements, which only came into force after the enactment of the PMFL in 2005.

Ivan didn’t help either, but things should have been up to speed by now, said Mr. Duguay.

‘It was going to be a difficult exercise. The first year was never going to be done in two months but I’m disappointed that it’s taken longer than two years.’

One of the reasons for government entities dragging their heels may be that there are no penalties under the PMFL.

‘Something needs to be done,’ said Mr. Duguay.

‘If this is your job as a chief financial officer to get this out and you don’t get it done, there has to be some consequence to that.

‘At a minimum they should be going before the Legislative Assembly and explaining why they haven’t been able to meet the deadlines.’