Against financial policy
A number of Cayman Islands
government employees received three or more salary advances within a one-year
period, according to a review performed by the government’s Internal Audit
The audit covered the period
between 1 July, 2007, and 30 November, 2008, but has only recently been
released to the public under a Freedom of Information request made by the
Auditors reviewed 10 per cent of
the 770 salary advances given to government employees during those 17 months
and found all of the advances reviewed were paid back within one or two months.
However, in 45 instances where
salary advances were provided to government employees, there were at least
three advances – and in some cases as many as seven advances – given to individual
employees within the course of a year.
That, auditors found, was in direct
violation of government policy set in August 2005 by the Financial Secretary.
“(The policy states) that prior to
approving salary advances the chief officer and/or head of department should
ensure that applicants adhere to the recommended limit of two advances per
year,” read the audit report.
“Also, (the Treasury Department’s)
operating procedures state that the advance should not exceed the employee’s
regular net monthly salary and should be repaid within one month via salary deduction.”
The report acknowledged that the
Financial Secretary’s policy was not binding legislation; however, auditors
stated they “found no evidence” that various departments had established their
own procedures for allowing salary advances.
It was recommended that government
departments adhere to the policy of allowing only two salary advances per year
per employee, unless there were some exceptional circumstances involved.
Those recommendations, according to
the audit report released in April 2009, were largely ignored.
Only the department of Judicial
Administration, the administrators for the law courts, responded that they
would – henceforth – follow the salary advance policy.
“No other responses were received
from the management of agencies where exceptions were noted as of the date of
this report,” auditors noted.
According to the review of the 45
employees who received three or more salary advances; eleven worked in the
Portfolio of Finance and Economics, seven apiece worked for the Portfolio of
Internal and External Affairs and the former Ministry of Communications, Works
Salary advances are typically
allowed by government departments in cases where workers are on leave and want
cash up front, or for those who are facing unexpected financial difficulties.
Travel advances are also allowed
for expenses incurred on official government business only, and employees are
required to present a full account of those travel expenses within seven days
of their return to Cayman.
However, auditors found that in
most cases they reviewed, this was either not done on time or not done at all.
“We were only provided 32 of the 51
claim forms (for government-related travel) requested, and of those 32, only
eight were submitted…within seven days of return,” the report read.
Auditors were concerned that the
outstanding travel advances might impede government’s ability to ensure the
accuracy of its financial records.
Again, auditors received no
response on this part of the review, other than from the Judicial Administration.