The Ministry of Health for the first time received an unqualified opinion from the Office of the Auditor General on an audit, which covered the ministry’s 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Despite the clean books, auditors were still critical of the ministry for how long it took to get the financial reports in order.
“A balance needs to be struck between the credibility of the information contained in the financial reports and the timeliness of its availability for use by decision makers and other stakeholders,” an official with the Office of the Auditor General told the Cayman Compass.
He said, “Government needs to consider whether the appropriate balance was achieved by issuing these financial statements nearly two years after the year end, and whether this provided effective accountability and useful information to decision makers.”
An unqualified opinion means that the ministry’s books fairly represent its financial situation.
The Ministry’s Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn, in a statement released Monday, said, “I’m very grateful to our Chief Financial Officer Nellie Pouchie for her hard work and the dedication that was required to achieve this unqualified result.”
She added, “I believe this result is testament to the effectiveness of the policies and procedures that have been put in place by Ms. Pouchie and her predecessor Mr. Cooper.”
Ms. Ahearn, who did not respond to questions about the delays, said in the release that ministry staff took feedback from the auditors and had to reevaluate fixed assets, like buildings and equipment, to determine the actual worth.
The official from the auditor general’s office said financial reports should be delivered to auditors within six months of the end of the fiscal year. He said, “Audited financial reports are prepared by public sector entities to provide accountability for the use of funds and for making decisions around spending going forward. In order for financial statements to meet these objectives, accounting standards require financial reports to meet certain criteria, which include being issued in a timely manner.”
According to the auditor general’s most recent report, six audits from the 2012-2013 year are still in progress, including those from the Ministry of District Administration, Ministry of Education, Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, Cayman Islands Airports Authority and the Tourism Attractions Board. The Children & Youth Services Foundation has outstanding audits from 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.
Of the 32 government audits for the 2012-2013 year, 26 have been completed. The Office of the Auditor General issued unqualified opinions in 12 of those reports.