Mac criticises AG’s report

| 03/05/2010

(CNS): The premier has opted to criticize the findings in the auditor general’s report on government accounts rather than those responsible for failing to meet the requirements of the Public Management and Finance Law. Last week McKeeva Bush called the report “significantly lacking in usefulness” and that it “falls short". Bush denied that it was a national crisis or that government did not know what expenditure has occurred but that the expenditures have not been audited. He did not comment on the point that while government may know, without annual reports it is very difficult for the public to know how public money has been spent.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, Bush said that he could not put a firm date on when the accounts would be up to date but he indicated that many of the outstanding financial statements would be finished by June this year. Bush did not say when those annual reports would then be tabled, making those accounts public documents. Nor did he reveal when he expected the first of the government’s entire annual reports to be tabled in the parliament, finally enabling the people to see exactly what government has spent on what and why, going back over more than five years.

Not for the first time, Bush criticised Dan Duguay for speaking publicly about his report. The premier said that the second edition of the State of Financial Accountability Reporting painted a dismal picture of the financial management systems but that the AG had not taken the time to understand what the real issues were, despite the considerable recommendations in the report, which the premier did not comment upon.

“Having read the auditor general’s report, I find that it is significantly lacking in usefulness to help guide the government out of this current backlog,” Bush said.

The report, however, offers five clear recommendations on the way forward, including how best to use the task force to help get the accounts up to date and to introduce consequences for the failure of senior government accountants to do their reports.

“It is easy to criticize and hint at some for of inadequacy but it is far more productive for someone to take time to really drill down and understand what the real issues are and then make meaningful and practical recommendations to overcome some of the deficiencies identified,” the premier added.

While Bush said he was not there to make excuses he blamed the problem on the PMFL and said its introduction was a fundamental change which affected the entire culture of government. He said it introduce a “complex and extensive” system which was designed to hold government ministries, departments, agencies and companies responsible for their own budgets.  

Confirming previous announcements that his government would be seeking a reform of the law, Bush said that while PMFL contained some excellent aspirations, after six years the Cayman Island “still had some distance to travel” to meet its obligations.

During the debate regarding the government’s first changes to PMFL which was to remove the requirement for government to present its budget to parliament two months before the fiscal year end, opposition member Alden McLaughlin warned that while the law required some changes government needed to be careful not to erode the principles of good financial management. He noted that there had been a clear indication over the last few years that the public sector needed to enhance its financial management systems not make them worse. The PPM member pointed out that even in the Miller/Shaw report the authors pointed out what was missing from PMFL.

Defending the principles behind the law, McLaughlin said, “I have heard people say PMFL is too sophisticated and complicated for this small island and was designed for much bigger governments, but I don’t believe that is the case. Our challenge is to improve it and find out why it is not being implemented.”

Category: Headline News

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What do you expect ?

    Our leader could not calculate in his head 5% of $1000 during his radio discussions last week on the subject of payroll taxes. He obviously cannot comprehend and understand what he reads and I am assuming he can read. As one contributor rcently commented when he was praying for the future of Cayman on the Govt steps in town, "Lets pray for a leader with a high school diploma".

    He criticized the PPM when he was a back bencher and has criticized them now for a whole year after the last election, however time is running out fast when he will not be able to criticize others and only himself. Maybe he does not understand this either.

    What has he really done ? – a big fat nothing, however soon we will be allowing him to destroy Cayman by implementing new taxes in the middle of the greatest recession the world has seen in 80 years. Everyone with half a brain knows these simple rules of economics 101. He is applying taxes all because he has not got the guts to clean up the civil service and wants us, the people, to pay for his incompetence and finance his ability to borrow more so he can commence his grand projects and take his usual cuts from these projects. 

    Cayman, "wake up and smell the coffee". you created this man.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The AG is popular on here because his story is the only one we’ve heard…we have no idea what the civil servants side of the story is…wait…why would we care…its no fun to know the truth we just want to critisize someone 🙂

    Ok so the AGs "just telling the truth" which may be the case, but I must say I’m impressed/surprised that the Premier has looked at the big picture and seen that this law is too onerous (which has been my view from before it was implemented back when I was a civil servant); rather than turning a blind eye to that and blaming a certain people (which I’ll agree is much easier to do).  Think about it…both local and overseas accountants unable to produce these reports, and the only commonality they have is the PMFL…

     

  3. Scrooge McDuck says:

    In BushSpeak this statement means:

    "We don’tneed no stinkin’ Auditor General because we’re not exactly sure how much but I know a lot of your money has been wasted I will let you know soon.  Or I won’t.  That’s for me to decide.

    Or

    I might change everything and not tell you."

     

  4. Anonymous says:

    Anyone other than CNS read the AG report? Recommended solutions were provided. Clearly the Premier didn’t and some posters seem to have not done so either. Do we really need the AG to make it more clearer…assign names perhaps?

    • Chris Johnson says:

      I thought it a clean and concise report. I should add that the AG has a staff who do much of the work. If you criticize the AG you critcize his department. No man is an island well not until last year!!

      I suppose we can expect a lot more criticism of Mr Duguay once he has left the island and cannot respond.

  5. Anonymous says:

    why doesnt Mac borrow the batmobile from the new car museum – it could be the official vehicle after all he does appear to be living in fantasy land

    • Anon says:

      This sounds like a very sensible idea!

    • Anonymous says:

      Question is who is to be Batman and who Robin 

       

       

      • Anonymous says:

        Clearly Mac would be the Joker. He couldn’t be Mr. Freeze for 2 reasons. He was unable to freeze the expansion of the civil service and his rants are definitely not cool.

  6. noname says:

    As I understand it, the auditors job is to audit and report….not offer solutions.  So the Premier whining that it is not useful because it doesn’t offer solutions is absolute nonsense.  AG’s job is to point out deficiencies – YOUR job, Mr Premier is to find the solutions – so stop whinging about it and just do it.

    Clearly you have not been reading this site and seeing just how popular Dan Duguay is and how his work has been appreciated by the people – trying to discredit him is only going to do yourself more damage.  Based on what I have read, people do not respond to mud slinging and mouthing off about other people, what we do respond to is assurance that the issue is being tackled and then prompt and efficient action to make it happen.

  7. Anonymous says:

    TYPICAL- "The premier has opted to criticize the findings in the auditor general’s report on government accounts rather than those responsible for failing to meet the requirements of the Public Management and Finance Law. Last week McKeeva Bush called the report “significantly lacking in usefulness” and that it “falls short".  "  

    1. An auditors’ job is not to make friends.

    2. An auditors’ job is not to step on toes.

    3. An auditors’ job is to ensure correctness and efficiency.

  8. Anon says:

    So the Premier denied that it was a national crisis or that Govt. did not know what what expenditure has occurred. However, when he was in opposition it was a terrible situation and the then Government were extremely negligent. Very interesting now that he is responsible.

    XXXXX

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is a crying shame. If the highly paid CFO’s for each department (plus I am sure they have assistants) can’t do their only job….fire them. We need to cut Gov’t anyway! PMFL gives the $$ management to the department heads….do we really think this is wise after the Gov’t fuel give away. Does anyone know if that department head was fired? I think each dept. should be audited and where money and assets has been mis-managed, fire the lot of them. Our own people are robbing us blind and I am tired of hearing stories of such on the marl road. When Mac wanted to cut the civil service, he called in the heads of the dept’s….some of which are the problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not that I care, because I’m a big fan of bashing CFOs as well, but clearly there’s a lot of mis-information floating around, from what I’ve been provided (through FOI request) these CFOs are paid on average about 50% less than they would make in private sector….

  10. Anonymous says:

    Will UCCI be holding a commencement ceremony of something like that shortly?

    Wouldn’t this be an ideal opportunity for Roy to confer an Honourary Doctor of Finance on our esteemed leader? That would put a stop to the critics who say he has no qualifications in finance.

    I would need to contact the Protocol Office (if he hasn’t disbanded them) to find out if he would be called Dr. Premier MacDaddy or would it be Honourable Premier Dr. MacDaddy.

    This would also allow him to negotiate on equal terms with Dr. Shetty, and later this week when TurnAroundMac announces that there will NOT be any payroll taxes, who is there among you to question him?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Bush you will fine fault with any thing or any one that put your faults to light and thats the bottom line. Hopefully the new aduitor will have a mine of his own and not afraid to use it.HOPEFULLY  

  12. Anonymous says:

    The usefulness of the Auditor General’s report to the Premier perhaps illustrates his uselessness rather than any flaw in the report.

  13. Anonymous says:

    BLAH..  BLAH.. BLAH.. BLAH.. and more B….S….

  14. 2 Da Bone says:

    Make one of Mr Premier’s lines more concise it really shows the problem:

    Bush said he blamed the problem on the PMFL, it was a fundamental change to Government, as it was designed to hold government responsible for their own budgets.

    Frankly this all just seems to be blame the messenger and ignore the message once again

  15. Anonymous says:

    Are you kidding me?  After six years a country of qualified accountants (who already have professional skills in accrual accounting) still can’t get it right and you criticize the Auditor General for their inadequacies.  He’s simply telling the truth and even though he has offered up recommendations you continue to criticize.  Mr. Bush come down from your high horse and put your feet on the ground.  In any other civilised society you would be raked over the coals for letting this situation get so far out of hand and particularly letting civil servants get away with this blantant disobedient behaviour.  The Auditor General is RIGHT………you are WRONG.  If your staff are truly qualified accountants then they are being negligent in the duties and if they cannot perform the tasks they were hired to perform then sack the lot of them.  And report them to their accounting bodies for not obeying the rules in the country they serve and have their qualifications revoked.  If the Audit Office (one group of qualified accountants) can get it right then there is no excuse for any other office not to have performed.  And yes that Office did receive a qualified opinion the first year….for their outputs……….but this is what come with changes…….we make mistakes and we learn from them………Sir you continue to make mistakes but YOU have not learned anything nor do I fear will you ever.

    • Anonymous9 says:

      If only you could hear my applause after reading this post.

      Well said.

      I wouldn’t think that anyone would disagree with this

      I just wish that Mac would read some of these. (Not that he would take heed…!)

       

      Thank you

  16. Watler says:

    The whole premise of the AG Report, states that WE CAN’T RUN OUR ECONOMY, and thus, BRITISH RULE or BRITISH intervention, would be the only solution!  Before leaving, he has made sure to drown his report with so many negatives.

    At the beginning he should have stuck with his findings and kept out of making political statements.

    • Anonymous says:

      the truth hurts?

      go back to the national part time of sticking your head in the sand…

    • Anon says:

      Well it strikes me the AG was right – clearly we can’t run our economy.  I saw nothing within that report even hinting at British rule or intervention.  It seems to me all Dan ever did was try and make the government more accountable to the Cayman public about their spending, which simply put, is (was) his job.  I’d go further to say I think the very last thing Dan intended was for us to end up under British rule/intervention, as had our ‘leaders’ had the vision to listen and heed his advice over the years, we’d perhaps not be in the precarious financial position we find ourselves in now, and there would be no need for conspiracy theorists such as yourself to even suggest the AG had ulterior motives.

      What political statements do you think he should have refrained from making? So far as I can see the only political statement he ever made were references to the country’s finances and poor fiscal policy – that was his job.  If he failed to make such statements he would be failing not only government (even though they prefer to bury their heads deep down in the sand than hear and heed the truth); but also the people of Cayman.

      I really hope this new guy doesn’t lack the same integrity and dedication Dan displayed. I hope this new guy has the same gritty resolve to stand behind his reports and not be bullied into silence by you-know-who.  What we really need is someone to bully the politicians into doing something rather than nothing at all.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I listened to Mac’s speech and it was obvious it was not written by him. My guess would be Ken Jefferson and/or the Chief Officer in the Finance Ministry, both seeking to deflect blame from themselves for not making ministries accountable for non compliance with the PMFL. I find it demeaning to us Caymanians to say the law is too sophisticated and complicated for us to implement.  Aren’t we supposed to be this cutting edge fifth largest offshore financial centre in the world etc etc? Or have we allowed that all to slip away too? Although I am not a PPM supporter, I congratulate Alden McLaughlin for his words quoted in the last paragraph. It’s a pity that like all governments, his did not have the guts to hold Mr Jefferson and certain other chief officers responsible for the non compliance with the PMFL.