Budget records error-ridden

Multiple mistakes contained in financial records were flagged during a finance committee review this week.

The records were presented to the Legislative Assembly as part of the upcoming government budget. The errors in the documents forced committee chairman Marco Archer, the finance minister, to call a brief recess Wednesday so that officials could figure out the mistakes.

The Cayman Compass had already inquired about a number of errors in the budget plan last month.

Some of the errors can be attributed to typographical mistakes. For instance, government revenue estimates show $63,000 will be earned over the entire 2014/15 budget year for new grants of Caymanian status. That seemed erroneous because government earned more than $500,000 on those grants during the current budget year.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs made an error in submitting a figure of $63,000 as to revenue … with respect to Caymanian status fees,” Mr. Archer noted in an email to the Compass. “The correct amount for 2014/15 should have been $563,000.”

Other figures contained in the budget records were simply wrong.

Legislative Assembly members pointed out Wednesday that budget figures showed a drastic drop in the amount of money spent to regulate the Cayman Islands’ financial services industry, from $11.3 million in the current year to $3.3 million proposed in the 2014/15 budget.

Lawmakers pointed out that the spending in the current budget year was actually $6.3 million and that the $11.3 million figure was from an earlier government financial year, included by mistake in the records presented Wednesday.

In another instance, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands was budgeted to receive $766,000 from government for the upcoming fiscal year that begins on July 1, according to purchase agreements submitted with the budget records.

That appeared to be a large increase over the $470,000 that the trust had been given by government this fiscal year. However, when the newspaper contacted National Trust officials regarding the sizeable increase, it was informed no such budget existed.

The baseline budget for the trust, $470,000, was unchanged from year to year. The agency, which also receives donations from the private sector, will get an additional $150,000 to assist one of its ancillary efforts, the Blue Iguana Recovery Program. However, even with the extra $150,000, the trust budget from government doesn’t add up to the $766,000 stated in the documents given to the Legislative Assembly.

The issues surrounding the National Trust budget were discussed on Wednesday, causing some confusion among Legislative Assembly members.

Environment Minister Wayne Panton clarified that an amount listed for the National Trust budget in the government’s Annual Plan and Estimates for the current year, stated as $214,000, was wrong and that the correct number was actually $470,000.

However, East End MLA Arden McLean pointed out the earlier amount for the upcoming year’s budget, listed in the purchase agreements, was $766,000, and was also apparently incorrect.

“Where does that come from on page 474, sir, of the purchase agreement?” Mr. McLean asked.

“Unfortunately … that number is incorrect as well,” Mr. Panton said.

“Can we take a quick five minute break and I ask the [chief financial officer] and the minister and chief officer of the ministry … to go through whatever is left and check that all the figures are correct and correct them at the time?” Minister Archer said.

Compass journalist Michael Klein contributed to this article.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Finance again!. Now the journalists are crunching the numbers better than the accountants. Come on guys you are making us look bad, if you are not watching the pennies, how can the dollars watch themselves. Finance have the power of control but they do not use it, just watch which elements the UK regulate when they send in the regulators..

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  2. How much do they pay those who prepared the budget? In a private sector they would have gotten pink slips. Welcome to the Cayman Islands comedy club.

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  3. This is sign of one of two things. Either they can’t count and keep books or someone is deliberately trying to hide money that will go missing.

    Either instance is a cause for serious concern.

    Sounds to me like someone is already planning to did their hands into the cookie jar.

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