A special Auditor General’s Office report to be handed to the Legislative Assembly in the coming weeks will tackle the chronic delays that have left many government entities severely behind schedule in having their financial records audited.
While government ministries and portfolios are legally required to hand in their financial records for audit two months after the end of the financial year, most are over 20 months late and are yet to submit records for the 2005/06 financial year.
‘The situation needs to be improved,’ said Auditor General Dan Duguay. ‘We need to get more timely information.’
He said the special report will outline where each government entity is at with having their records ready for auditing and will also provide advice on how the situation can be improved.
‘We have provided sections on what some of the problems are and, hopefully, what some of the solutions can be in regards to achieving greater accountability,’ Mr. Duguay explained.
The only core government bodies that are up to date with the auditing requirements contained in the Public Management and Finance Law, which was implemented in 2004, are Mr. Duguay’s own office, (which is externally audited) and the Office of the Complaints Commissioner.
The situation amongst Cayman’s 25 statutory authorities and government companies is a mixed bag, Mr. Duguay acknowledged, with nine having handed in financial statements for the 2006/07 year.
One of the better organised has been the University College of the Cayman Islands. It was a routine audit of the UCCI’s financial statements for the 2006/07 financial year that unearthed questions about financial misappropriations within former President Hassan Syed’s office.
Mr. Duguay said the episode underscored the importance of the auditing process for government entities.
‘[The UCCI] were only a few months late in delivering their financial statements,’ he noted. ‘You can imagine scenarios where, three or four years of financial statements aren’t done … and you could have such a situation going on for a longer period of time.
‘This is the kind of scrutiny that all government organisations will ultimately be subjected to,’ he said.
Mr. Duguay hopes the report creates more awareness of the situation so there are greater demands for records to be submitted on time.
‘Everyone throughout the system needs to demand better accountability – from the chief financial officers to the chief executive officers, right up to members of the Legislative Assembly. They are they ultimate users of these documents,’ he said.
‘They should be joining the chorus to demand these things get done when they are supposed to get done.
‘I think everyone is getting a bit frustrated with a system that keeps giving out funds and which has mechanisms for accountability that are not being utilised.
‘We need to make it more effective so it is closer to what is envisaged in the law.’