On the agenda also for Friday’s House Sitting, will be the presentation of the 2012-2013 Auditor General’s report of Government expenditures. If you’re wondering why the 2012-2013 report is just being published, it is because the audit process is very tedious and painstaking. For the auditor general’s office, the work is even made more difficult because of insufficient human resource and support provided by the Ministry of Finance. In her reports, the Auditor General Dorothy Bradley makes continuous mention of the need for more resources for her Department to be able to carry out its work timely.
Looking closer at the contents of the report, there are serious questions raised about financial decisions taken by Government Ministries. On such is the Ministry of Works and its relationship with a vehicle parts business known in Belmopan as “Special Effects”. The business provided the Ministry with tires and other parts from 2009 to 2013, but according to the report, the business was not legally registered.
The audit also raised questions about the Ministry’s due diligence with purchases done at Special Effects, since it marked its prices much higher than other businesses. The report noted that [quote] “a comparison of identical items and prices revealed that prices, from two other businesses, were much higher than established dealerships resulting in a loss to the government” [end quote]
Opposition members in the House have obtained the Auditor General’s report. While it will take some time to examine the entire report, Opposition Leader John Briceno told us today that what he has seen so far is shocking.
Honourable John Briceno - Opposition Leader for the People’s United Party
“That is a serious indictment against the UDP government, it shoes the entrenched corruption within the government, basically the Auditor General said in her report that she cannot certify that what she have seen is correct in effect because she cannot get the documents. When you have I think about forty bank accounts that have not been reconciled what is going on?, what is the CEO doing?, what is the minister doing? The CEO is the accounting officer that report also condemned the ministry of finance and was very harsh with the ministry of finance stating that they have not been doing her jobs. The minister of finance has been the Rt. Honorable Dean Barrow since 2008 he at the end of the day as the minister of finance and the Prime minister is personally responsible for what is taking place. We spent over a billion dollars a year, we have housewives that every month balance their check book now how on earth can we have these people who are accountants not balancing the check book that is unacceptable and if we have anybody not balancing their bank accounts then they need to be held accountable, they need to be fired if they are not doing their jobs and when you have that the Auditor General is saying that the ministry of finance have not been doing their jobs, I think it’s a serious indictment and it cements the views of the Belizean people that today we are one of the most corrupts government ever.”
In presenting a financial opinion on the audit, Auditor General declares that most bank accounts along with other Government of Belize accounts managed by the Accountant General have not been reconciled for a number of years, which make it impossible to clear up discrepancies. As a result, the Auditor General indicates that the information presented to her office for auditing does not give a true and fair view of the Government’s financial position as of March 31, 2013.