Witnesses blame ministries for missing reports

| 14/05/2010

(CNS): Many of the government’s missing annual reports appear to be in the hands of ministry officials, according to some statutory authorities. A number of these reports which should have already been tabled in the Legislative Assembly in order to make them public documents appear to have been held up at the final hurdle, the Public Accounts Committee heard on Thursday as it resumed its hearings regarding the current delinquent state of the government’s financial accounts. A number of statutory authorities who were cited by the AG’s office as being substantially complete, told PAC that they had sent reports to their relevant ministries only to have them disappear. (The LA table where annual reports need to be laid before becoming public documents)

A number of CEOs and CFOs who came to the committee meeting said reports were given to ministry officials, in some cases more than three years ago, but they had never found their way to the LA. Witnesses revealed that they had no idea that their annual reports had never been tabled until they saw the latest edition of the Auditor General’s report on the State of Financial Accountability Reporting.
 
In that report, his last before leaving his post, Dan Duguay pointed out that there were some 73 annual reports that had been completed by various statutory authorities which had never reached the LA.
 
During a full day’s hearing the PAC, which for most of the day consisted of just the chair Ezzard Miller and Ellio Solomon, representatives from each statutory authority and government company came through to explain the current situation with their accounts. For some, meeting the chair’s deadline of completing all their accounts and annual reports was going to prove challenging as entities like the National Museum simply do not have the funding to pay for auditors. However, for others, inorder to meet their obligations under the PMFL it would be simply a matter of calling the ministries and asking them to table the reports.
 
For some the dire circumstance surrounding their internal accounts was so bad that Miller asked the auditor if the way forward should be for certain entities to simply jump over the years where the accounting information was inadequate for audit and move forward to more up to date fiscal year accounts, a precedent set by the HSA.  The acting auditor general, Garnett Harrison, pointed out that he could not recommend any entity do that as it is was against the law.
 
Miller, however, pointed out the impossibility of getting the whole of government accounts up to date if something was not done to address the stalled situation that many entities appeared to face. Solomon pointed out that it was unwise to attempt to resolve the problem of not being compliant with PMFL by breaking the law more and said there had to be a way of getting the accounts finished that didn’t make an already bad situation worse.
 
Many of the statutory authorities felt the chair’s September goal was attainable and they committed to doing their very best to make the new deadline for all accounts to be up to date and to ensure that whatever shortcomings appeared in the out of date fiscal years would be addressed and resolved by 2009/10.
 
One of the last groups of witnesses to pass through the day’s PAC meeting was the representatives from the Turtle Farm, where the accounts were particularly delinquent. Citing a number of difficulties at the farm, in addition to lost documentation they also revealed that PricewaterhouseCoopers, the auditors for Boatswain Beach, had submitted a letter of resignation and the farm was now unsure who would be able to audit their accounts.
 
Miller pointed out again that he would no longer accept any excuses and the Turtle Farm, like every other entity, had to find a way to comply with the law.
 
Speaking to CNS after two days of examining government entities, Miller said the exercise was well worth while.
 
“It was worth the effort to call in those responsible for the accounts to give them a chance to defend themselves, air their problems and challenges,” Miller said. “But we have talked enough and now is the time to get down to completing the accounts. The most important issue is that the 2009/10 accounts will al be done properly.”
 
Miller said that in the words of the acting auditor general “a line was now drawn in the sand” and there was no room for more excuses. The accounts had to be completed and audited then all the annual reports needed to be finished and tabled in the Legislative Assembly in compliance with the Public Management and Finance Law. Only then, he said, could law makers finally see how the money they were continually required to vote for was being managed and the wider public could see exactly what the public purse was spent on.

Category: Headline News

Comments (9)

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  1. Richard Wadd says:

     Well lets stop and think for a minute shall we.

     IF these ‘Reports’ have already been compiled (regardless of whatever may have mysteriously become of them), how hard would it be to …REPRINT THEM?

     Surely the files weren’t ‘Deleted’ as well ?

     Stop playing the ‘Blame-Game’ and produce the damn Reports then !

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would ministry officials cause the reports to dissappear for these years ?

      and yes it appears at least in one instance that files have been deleted. i think it was 6 months of 2007 financial data for the Turtle Farm.

  2. anyhoo says:

    Any move to try and "wipe the slate clean" and ignore the old accounts as they are now so out of date should be resisted.

    Ministry heads and their cronies have far too much to conceal. It isn’t good enough to try and say let’s write-off the past and start afresh. Make people accountable even if it takes years and yes, more public money. This situation is ridiculous.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Clearly some bodys head needs to be cut off in this case or maybe a number of heads. If Cayman wants to stop being the laughing stock, a thried world nation and a joke then take those heads. Stop turning a blind eye to a complete mismanaged Government over the years.

  4. crazygirl says:

    Mac and his crew a soon end up like Bruce Golding in Jamaica, where he will be force to step down.

    We has Caymanian need to come together and ask Mac and his crew to step down, because no good is coming out of it. I donot see what mac and crew is doing for us.

    Ezzard it looks like you are the only one that is trying to achieve something for your district and now you have a challenge to get these accounts uo-to-date.

    I wish you Mr. Miller Good Luck.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I know this will ruffle some feathers, but I cannot helped but be amused by this when for so long, in some of these very discussions, I’ve heard trumpeted how it is local accountants and financial professionals (and "far more qualified ones" at that) which are passed over time and again in favor of expats; and yet here are departments, ministries and authorities chock full of local accountants and financial professionals who apparently have been unable to keep the simplest of accounts, leaving their organizations with YEARS where the "accounting information was inadequate for audit".

    What good is having a skill if you’re not going to do the job?

     

  6. Pending says:

    Wonder if the dictator is behind this? He probably feels he is obligated to censor such reprots from ever reaching public forum.

    The walls are caving in and soemthing is going to blow, very very soon.

  7. Raffaele says:

    Now the heated confrontation is about to begin and now you are going to find out what the AG has been saying all along about where the problem really lies – it’s in fact this Hidden agenda "black hole". The problem is that these ministry job 4 lifers are always singled out and praised by the political directorate for their supposedly tireless stalwart efforts and it is in fact a farce and a bunch of bul#@%&t. These folks are at the heart of problem and are the real reason that the government is not running effectively. Truth be told, if you removed or fired some of these inept people government wouldn’t even skip a beat. Boy this is going to be fun, because the "blame game" has already begun. These statutory bodies and departments know well that the mismanagement and wastage of money that they do is condoned and overlooked by the various ministries and it is solely based on favoritism within government. Poor old Ezzard is going to wish he had Mr Dugay in this fight with this life threatening exercise – political careers are destroy in this theatre of battle. Our current financial situation maybe Ezzard’s Achilles heel and in this situation he better use it to make the necessary changes also. On a positive note this government is trying to do some little thing the previous Gov’t simply turn a blind eye or did nothing.

  8. Joe Bananas says:

    The facts are that they have and are continuing to break the law! And with this form of "Premeirship"it will be impossible to bring them to justice.  But does this really have to mean that they get paid for it?  And they get to keep the jobs that they are not doing?  O Wait. That’s right!  As the rest of the world knows by now that’s the way things are run in Cayman.  Your good with this right Mac?  No news is good news for you and your buddies.  No good good fines for them.  And of course no prison.  After all they are just following the leader. 

    P.S.  Don’t shoot the messenger and you and your buddies are now the official enemies of the very people that pay and pay and pay you.  If what goes around comes around you "responsible ones" better get ready to run.