Grand Cayman residents who see
zombies stomping around North Side in the near future need not worry; they’re
probably only extras appearing in the soon-to-be-filmed movie Zombie Driftwood.
But residents should be excused if
they mistake the zombies for members of government, some of whom seem to stomp
through their days doing very little, except maybe scaring some people.
If the B-movie-like script
concerning government’s accounts during the Public Accounts Committee last week
is any indication, Zombie Driftwood has some serious competition.
We heard representatives for
government ministries and portfolios blame the auditor general’s office for the
lack of audited accounts, some going back to the financial year 2004/05. The Auditor General’s Office acknowledged
receiving financials from the ministries and portfolios, but countered by
saying that some of the submissions were so poor it couldn’t give an opinion on
One government chief financial
officer admitted that one civil servant hired to input transactions “didn’t
understand what they were doing”, and that the errors were probably passed on. Other testimony during the PAC hearing made
us wonder if everyone there understood that a qualified audit opinion was
actually not a good thing.
Why a government department would
assign someone who didn’t know what they were doing to keep track of its
financial records is open to debate, but why things that happened six years ago
are still an issue now is a different story.
It’s not been Night of the Living
Dead, but Decade of the Living Dead.
When PAC Chairman Ezzard Miller
suggested the government not spend too much time producing five-year-old
reports, and instead concentrate on the most recent fiscal year, we’re sure he
was just trying to take the practical approach.
But how is the public to know its money was well spent for all the years
between 2004/05 and now? There could be
glaring irregularities in the accounts, and by just ignoring them, it could
lead to further irregularities in the future.
As long as financial records were
kept, they can be reconciled – inputting errors or not. Not only is it the law of the land, but the
people of the Cayman Islands deserve audited accounts of government spending –
even if zombies spent the money.