Chamber of Commerce calls for new government accountability standard

The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce council has congratulated the two government entities that received unqualified opinions on their accounts from the Auditor General’s Office, but said a new standard for accountability must be set. 

In a statement issued by Chamber President Johann Moxam, the council acknowledged “progress after 10 years.” 

“It means the civil servants in those two entities – the Ministry of Community and Home Affairs and the Portfolio of the Civil Service – are doing their jobs properly and demonstrating improved accountability, which can be congratulated,” he said. “This is a small step in the right direction. But let’s be candid, the Cayman Islands Government has a long road ahead in order to achieve full compliance with the [Public Management and Finance Law].” 

For more than a decade, many of the government’s 41 entities, including ministries, portfolios, government-owned companied and statutory authorities, have failed to get unqualified audit opinions on their annual accounts.  

Unqualified audit opinions mean the accounts can be verified, but these “clean” audit results have been a rarity with Cayman Islands government entities in recent times when required accounts have been late, incomplete or not submitted at all, and have often either been disclaimed entirely or been given qualified audit opinions.  

Last week, Premier Alden McLaughlin and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson held a press conference to announce the two unqualified audit results for the 2013/14 budget year. They also announced a qualified audit result for the same financial year for the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport, which, while not ideal, is the best evaluation for the tourism ministry and district administration ministry in the past 10 years.  

Mr. McLaughlin said the lack of proper government accounts is something that had hampered the elected government for several administrations, but he warned that it would likely take a few more years to restore full financial accountability.  

Mr. Moxam said the Chamber Council supports “every effort by the Ministry of Finance and the Cayman Islands Government to achieve tangible success” and that a new standard for accountability must be set. 

“The collective goal, set as a priority, must be the timely completion of all financial statements submitted without any qualified or adverse opinions by the auditor general and his team,” he said. “Every government needs unqualified and timely financial statements submitted so that they can make informed decisions regarding how to budget, forecast revenues and plan its expenses. We look forward to receiving good news of real progress.” 

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