Government bean counters review standards

| 21/11/2010

(CNS): As government accountants struggle to put together up-to-date management accounts that tell the people exactly how public money is being spent, 75 number crunchers from core government, statutory authorities and government companies attended a five-day intensive workshop recently. According to a release from government information services (GIS) the goal was to help government’s accountants and auditors better grasp new standards in financial management and reporting. Organised by the Civil Service College, the auditor general and accountant general, the workshop also raised a number of questions on how standards designed for large corporations applied to CIG operations.

With accountants attending from key departments, such as the budget unit, treasury and the audit office, Audit Manager Martin Ruben from the AG’s office said government accountants in Cayman had to become familiar with the new international standards and their implications.

“Financial managers should understand, for instance, the way a school is financed and how this is to be reported under international accounting standards in order to provide good advice on the impact on government’s finances,” he noted. The workshop provided a timely opportunity to discuss common issues and the need for common practices, as well as to network, he added.

Workshop facilitator from the Wales Audit Office, Iolo Llewellyn, lauded government’s foresight in adopting international financial reporting and public sector accountancy standards – years ahead of the United Kingdom. However, while the standards may have been adopted the public has not yet seen them in action as government has not produce an audited annual financial report since 2004.

The workshop reportedly generated debate about applying the extensive standards developed primarily for large public corporations, as compared to government operations in the Cayman Islands, the Welsh Office representative said.

Senior Assistant Financial Secretary Anne Owens summed up the workshop’s usefulness when she described it as “very informative”, but said a lot of work was needed, as a group, “to apply the standards consistently.”

Government is currently in the process of attempting to address the ongoing backlog of incomplete public accounts, and money was allocated in the last budget to pay for external accounting support to get the government books up to date. The 30 September deadline set by the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee has come and gone but the auditor general says he intends to publish an annual report in December revealing the current state of all government accounts.

Last month the AG admitted that, despite enormous pressure as well as the extra funding and personnel to get the 209/10 government accounts into the auditor general’s office by the statutory deadline of 31 August, more than half the chief financial officers in ministries and other government entities failed to make the deadline.

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Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    From what I see in the picture, their adding machine is outdated. They need up to date computers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a former expatriate civil servant, it is the inconsistencies between Ministries that  leads to the gross inefficiency within the service. And when there is a switch of musical chairs after an election, it is topsy turvy for at least 18months gettting used to the new methods in a new ministry.

    It is time that someone standardise things because each accountant thinks their way is the best

  3. michel lemay says:

    Dear frustrated staff, you have no idea how good it made me feel to hear your comment. I honestly feel that many more will come forward. And let them try and guess how are writing these. I AM becomming much more appreciative of the anonymous signature and I must apologise for not getting it at first. When Mr. Barlow wrote that it was not necessary a good idea to sign your name, coming from him was a wake up call for me.We live on and island of intimidation . As a wonderful Lady admitted to me this weekend I am one of those that cannot sign her name but if YOU can and fear no one please don’t stop. I only fear in my GOD and no need to vote to have Him on your side. Let’s not give up, and we ain’t no quitters.

  4. John Evans says:


    As a former civil servant with some (admittedly now very out of date) training in accountancy and auditing this whole crazy saga is putting even the Operation Tempura farce in the shade.

    Wouldn’t these 75 senior people have been better employed using those five days (that’s 375 man days or roughly 1.5 man years of lost work in real terms) to get stuck into the jobs they are being paid to do – giving the public accurate financial information in a timely manner.

    If they’re not up to speed in the job by now maybe it’s time for them to move on and find other employment.

    What a waste of public money and resources. I think someone needs to file an FoI request to find out exactly how much this little exercise cost.


    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, you aren’t seeing the big picture here.  The Civil Servants didn’t all attend all days I am sure.

      Moreover, your short sightedness is typical.  These were Accounting and Auditing Standards meant to help the CIG.  If they learned something, then I say that it is money well spent.  Sure I am sure there are a few who will take away little, but more importantly there are those that are doing the audits and finance functions of government who are not better able to service the CIG.

      By the way, I am sure your numbers are far off, but then again maybe that is why you are bitter and an EX civil servant.

  5. anonymous says:

    This photograph is just too funny. If we were not the laughfing stock of the world lately for our much publicised financial affairs of our Islands this one may make a great cartoon in the Wall Street Journal. Well done cns for printing this one . I can see the headlines: " Cayman Islands find a new way to balance their Budget".Senior Financial secretary Anne Owens summed it up as very informative but a lot of work was needed as a group. Must be to count the different colors. My grandson said look Pappie just like my toy." Where oh where as all our money gone" Andy and barefoot come out with a good song, we really need to laugh a little these days are we are becoming masters of juggling with our bills. Just too funny and sad all at the same time.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How many of these number crunchers are actually QUALIFIED accountants? By QUALIFIED I mean, CA, CPA, ACA.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, Anon, Sun 19:50: Ken Jefferson is a CPA. The Chief Officer of the Ministry of Finance, formerly Deputy Financial Secretary is NOT and neither is the Accountant General, in charge of the Treasury.

      BUT, they all hold the only qualification that matters in the upper regions of the Civil Service in Cayman: born Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      The sad fact is that they have qualified individuals in their ranks who still don’t grasp the reality of the situation. Having the qualification doesn’t guarantee you’ll know how to apply it. LOL

  7. Anonymous says:

    Senior Assistant blah blah Anne Owens said it was "very informative". Oh dear God! We do not need any more anodyne statements like that from Ms Owen and all these other incompetents in her Ministry of Finance which have been and still are unable to produce the financial statements. Stop the feeble PR utterances that none of us believes Anne, Sonia, Ken and actually DO something.

    With respect,

    One of your frustrated staff.