There will be a meeting of the House of Representatives this Friday and while the complete list of items on the agenda are not known, we have confirmed that one matter which will be tabled is an audit report by the office of the Auditor General on Government’s finances for the fiscal year 2014/2015.
The audit looks at Government revenue management and spending for that fiscal period, with the purpose of ensuring that all financial procedures were properly carried out.
As all auditors do when carrying an expert financial analysis, they provide an opinion which sets the tone on the content reviewed and conclusions made. In the case of the 2014/2015 financial audit, the Auditor General Dorothy Bradley states on page 9 that [quote] “In my opinion, the Financial Statements do not give a true and fair view of the Government’s financial position as at March 31, 2015” [end quote]
The report further states that the financial statements do not comply with the Finance and Audit Reform Act of 2005, as there is no financial information of Government controlled entities and undrawn grants are not disclosed.
In the area of revenue and spending, while recurrent revenue exceeded approved estimates by $54,733,385, recurrent spending exceeded the estimated amount by $90,130,441.49. Of this expenditure excess, $73,194,664.29 was due to public debt.
The auditor general then cites that her investigations disclosed that payments made for a portion of the public debt appeared unbudgeted in the approved estimates.
There are a number of financial issues for the fiscal period cited by the report such as not receiving statement of arrears of revenue from the accountant general, as is required by financial regulations. This compelled the office of the auditor general to conduct site visits of Government Department. Through this, it was revealed that the GST department was in arrears of revenue totalling $189,658,696, the Income Tax department in arrears of revenue totalling $27,217,026.29, Forestry by $5,141,466.90 while Transport had arrears of $98,632. The report indicates that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture, Lands and Survey failed to provide information.
There were other very serious audit issues that were raised by the report including cash unaccounted for at the Placencia Health Center. Red flags were raised when the Auditor General could not detect any type of financial recording-keeping at the health center. When information was sought regarding financial recording the Medical Officer who was considered in charge indicated that he did not consider the monies collected at the center as Government funds. The report states that the medical officer considered the funds collected as tips given to him and his staff for the services they provide.
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