HSA: We don’t need subsidy from CI Government

The Cayman Islands Health Services
Authority said this week that it intended to end its budget year on 30 June
with a slight surplus, reversing a trend of government subsidies to the
organisation over the past several years.

If that occurs, it will mark one of
the more surprising financial turnarounds in the Cayman
Islands government over the past decade.

HSA Board Chairman Canover Watson
told the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee that just four years
ago, the authority recorded operating losses of some $15 million.

In previous years, the HSA had been
chastised by the government for failing to pay its employee pensions on time
and at one point had to give up on presenting financial statements for its
2004/05 budget year simply because the information wasn’t available.

“The HSA has had a turbulent time
with its financial management,” Mr. Watson told the committee Tuesday.

However, recent years have seen a
steady decline in the subsidy the Cayman Islands government has paid to keep
the George Town
hospital, its clinics and other medical services running.

In 2007/08, budget records show
government subsidies had dropped to about $9 million. Last fiscal year, government
had to pay only $2 million to support the authority’s operations.

In the current year, 2009/10, HSA
officials said they expected no subsidy would be needed, although there’s still
another six weeks or so to go in the budget year.

However, Acting Auditor General
Garnet Harrison noted that his office could essentially substantiate none of
the authority’s figures since proper financial audits had not been completed.

HSA Chief Executive Lizzette
Yearwood said her agency had turned in financial statements for the 2005/06 and
2006/07 budget years and is working on 2007/08 numbers. Mr. Harrison said there
had been some “back and forth” with the agency in attempts to gather more information
that would help auditors sign off on a completed report.

“We run into this issue with many
clients, which is – ‘where do we stop the audit?’” Mr. Harrison said, adding
that information presented by many government entities had been incomplete over
the past several years and that some of those reports had now become so dated
that there seemed to be little use in finalising them.

Public Accounts Committee Chairman
Ezzard Miller said he wanted the HSA and the audit office to turn in all
financial audit statements to his committee by 30 September, even if auditors
could not verify the statements made by the authority.

“We’re not going to tolerate any
more excuses,” he said.

Mrs. Yearwood promised that all
outstanding financial statements would be presented in that time frame.