The Public Accounts Committee has lauded the 39 out of 41 government entities that received unqualified audit opinions.
At the committee’s annual awards ceremony last week, PAC chairman Ezzard Miller said the near full compliance of government entities with the requirements of the Office of the Auditor General was a “really serious and commendable achievement”.
An unqualified opinion is not an indicator of the financial health of an organisation, but it means that the auditors believe there are no material misstatements in the financial statements.
Miller urged those lagging to change their status by next year.
While it may seem odd that government entities should receive special mention for maintaining proper financial records, government’s record keeping has previously come under fire.
From 2007 to 2009, 24 government entities failed to receive a clean audit opinion. In financial year 2010/11, that number peaked at 27. Even in recent years, such as 2016/17, the number was as high as nine, before dropping to two in 2018/19.
The audited government entities include ministries, portfolios and offices, as well as statutory authorities and government companies.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said he welcomed that the Public Accounts Committee had held the entities’ “feet to the fire” to ensure they spend the public’s money in a “very judicious manner”. In addition to meeting their financial responsibilities, the accounts were completed to a standard that ensured the public’s right to know how government’s funds were spent, he said.
The PAC handed certain entities special awards for leading by example, audit efficiency and being most improved.
Among core government entities, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development received the Leading by Example Award for submitting its financial statements and annual report for the years 2018 and 2019 before the statutory deadline, for being the first entity audit completed in both years and achieving unqualified audit opinions. The ministry also received the 2019 Audit Efficiency Award for consistently being the first audit completed.
The 2018 Audit Efficiency Award went to the Ministry of Community Affairs for quick and efficient audit completion, having an unqualified opinion and for getting the annual report tabled promptly.
The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands was awarded in the 2019 ‘most improved’ category for working with the Office of the Auditor General to bring its 2016-17, 2018 and 2019 audits up to date in a seven-month period after many years of being in backlog and achieving unqualified opinions on all three periods.
Among the statutory authorities or government companies, the Audit Oversight Authority landed the 2018 and 2019 Leading by Example Awards, while the Public Service Pensions Board was recognised for audit efficiency in 2018, with the Health Services Authority winning the same category for 2019, in addition to the 2018 Most Improved Award.