Ministries’ accounts no value

| 15/12/2010

(CNS):The auditor general has revealed that the overall consolidated report on core government’s accounts will be of limited value as, he says, he has had to disclaim his opinions on nearly all of the financial statements submitted by ministries and he does not expect the situation to improve for the most recent financial year. Speaking at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting on Tuesday, Alastair Swarbrick said government’s accounts up to 2007/08 are “fundamentally unreliable” because of “significant deficiencies” in the supporting documentation and information.

In the first “General Report” on government accounts since the one published on the 2004/05 financial year, which is expected to be made public this week, the auditor says that he cannot give a clear view of the reliability of the financial statements up to 2009 because of the lack of information. He said that the information up to the year end of 2008 is of little value.

The country’s independent auditor also revealed that the output statements cannot be relied upon and were also of very limited value. “The systems and processes are not in place to effectively produce the information,” Swarbrick told PAC. “It is my office’s view that in their current guise they do not provide effective public accountability for the performance of ministries and portfolios.”

He said the reports don’t clearly indicate what a ministry or portfolio has actually achieved during the various financial years and in most cases he has had to disclaim or qualify his opinion.
Swarbrick revealed, however, that the statutory authorities and government companies had, with some notable exceptions, made better progress than core government. He said that as well as catching up with backlog, the financial statements were in many cases more reliable and the numbers and information were reasonable. He revealed that,  based on commitments by officials, the authorities’ backlogs should all be up to date and have submitted their 09/10 accounts to his office by February of 2011.

The auditor general noted that, while government entities were working on catching up with their accounts, it was important to begin to improve the quality of those financial statements for them to be accountable to the people. Despite the efforts to catch up, Swarbrick warned that there were still going to be issues concerning the last financial year, which ended on 30 June.

As various chief officers and chief financial officers came to discus their current situation with PAC on Tuesday, it was apparent that there was still considerable misunderstanding on the part of government’s accountants about what was expected of them when it came to submissions. A number of entities stated that they had submitted their accounts to the auditor for 09/10 by the deadline; however, Swarbrick noted that what they had submitted fell short of the requirements under the Public Management and Finance Law.

Chair of the committee, Ezzard Miller, said he could not understand why, when the people involved were qualified CPAs, they did not seem to know what was expected under that law. Swarbrick said that once the backlog was addressed it was clear there was a pressing need for an education process about what constitutes a submission.

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  1. Joe Bananas says:

    In other words "This IS the WAY we do business in Grand Cayman"

    We lie, We steal, We break our own laws.

    But all that is required of you to stay here for as long as we want you to is to pretend that we are honest, competent, and friendly and pay all your duties, fees, permits on time. Thank you for giving us everything we can not give ourselves.  O wait, one more thing.  Please remember at all times that whatever you are you are still not Caymanian and we are.

  2. Anonymous says:


    You know what I find troubling is that we have ministers and chief officers who have no experience at all in the portfolios that they are in charge with. I am not saying that everyone in government should have a degree or 3 cause some times street sense is good sense. but when we have minister and chief officers who are just saying pay this and pay that and not consulting the CFO’s or taking their advice in regards to the money that is in the assigned budgets, then what do we really expect to happen. At the end of the day they are rules and procedures in place for government and they are being disregarded. Credit cards are being used to do whatever and no receipts are provided as the regulations say, payments are “urgent” and checks are to be cut now cause the minister said so but its supposed to be a 30 day window, payments are being made to consultants and landlords with no signed contracts Government “consultants” and ministers are staying in high end hotels for $400-500 a night and charging it to government but the regulations say that the hotel is supposed to be $200 if I am not mistaken yet we still expect us to “stay in budget”  and we wonder why we are broke?!?
    Why is it that the people who supposed to follow the rules are the ones completely disregarding them and then want to put the people who are just doing what they are told to do by under qualified ministers, chief officers and PA’s who think they are the “right hand of God” in jail? If a CFO tells a minister “no we can’t pay that” or “ please provide receipts for the expenses on your credit card”, or “ no we cannot pay that from that account or move money from there to there” they are brow beaten into submission or shuffled off to somewhere else… or if they are REALLY luck they might end up on paid leave. This is why some government employees (please note I said some) have a don’t care attitude and the ones whodo care eventually don’t.  Come on now, we always say “run it like a business” no properly run business board of directors is going to disregard what the accounts department or the CFO of the company tells them to do in regards to finances and end up being in the black or making money… oh wait Enron and Bear Stearns did right
  3. Anonymous says:

    It doesn’t matter if it is a CA or a CPA or a Clown that is preparing the accounts.  If there is no back-up and tracking of outgoing (and incoming)funds then the accounts that are based on that information are going to be useless. 

    I can’t imagine that the accountant in the department would have any say in how the group was run if Mac’s group for example won’t even follow laws, i.e. FOI law.  Especially if the accountant were an expat (seriously).

    Picture for example the accountant sitting down with the head of the department (in this case someone like Big Mac, which I might suspect that there are many in the government) and saying "Ok, after 100 years of not having to account for anything please note that I will now require receipts to back up all the monies withdrawn from the department’s accounts so that I can put together useful financial information.  This also means no slush fund or petty cash.  I will then tie this back to our budget and confirm if we have sufficient funds for you to continue to travel and entertain."

    I have wondered for some time if that is why many government departments still run on a cash only basis – i.e. no credit cards or debit cards accepted.  I am not saying that the persons collecting the funds are skimming or anything like that of course but it does make everything tougher to tie out on the government as a whole as the paper trail can be reworked.

    Basically much like any entity, unless the top brass embrace the process (in this case proper recording of all transactions) then those below them in the entity are helpless.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Many years ago a minister of finance gained the reputation of deliberately confusing his ministry’s accounts, so no auditor would ever succeed in untangling them. Maybe his skills have been noted and improved upon.

  5. Anonymous says:

    People please stop all the worrying nah……..its only 1 day left to success according to McGod. Everything will be fixed within 24 hours !!! Trust me.

    LMAO !!!!!!!!

  6. Who The Cap Fit says:

    I guess no one is surprised at this.  There is no…..and hasn’t been….ANY….accountability for what is done with the peoples’ money.  For years.  It’s as if there is a room full of money and anyone working for any ministry can enter and take whatever they want.  They don’t even have to leave an I.O.U.  Just take it and keep taking ’til there isn’t any. This process seems to take about four years. And.. what do you know?  Then it’s time for a new bunch to enter the money room.  It seems ironic in a jurisdiction striving to let the world know "Cayman is open for business" that it’s government hasn’t a clue how to manage accounts.  Of more concern, because of the time involved, this whole fiasco leads one to believe that neither party really gives a $hit.  And that further these jokers view government service as an opportunity to commit theft without consequence.  Here’s the rub:  THEY ARE PAID HANDSOMELY to do this.  You could not run a business….any business…on this basis but obviously they don’t view government as a business but rather a bottomless piggy bank.  The solution?  People have been calling for the resignation of accounting officers for almost two years and nothing has happened.  What is now required is a statement from the ultimate head of government accounts informing us when he, the Premier of the Cayman Islands, will mend this flagrant abuse and bring in an outside firm of accountants to sort out the mess of public accounts and until such time WE must let it be known we have absolutely no faith in any statement he makes.

  7. Anonymous says:

    "Government needs to shed jobs faster"………. think he just found them !!!!!!!!

    So that massive reduction in debt the  government is boasting about, in reality now…… DOES NOT EXIST.  There is NO WAY that this can be determined by faulty accounts. 

    • Pending says:

      You actually believed Mac when he came out with that crap?

      I for one cannot wait for his reponse to this. No doubt the first thing to come out his mouth will be that its the PPM’s fault.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Nevermind spellcheck, there are many posters on this site that obviously need to proofread before hitting ‘save’!!!!  Doh!


  9. Criminally Poor Accountants says:

    CPA’s? They should be using CA’s, even ACCA’s if they have to stoop lower.

    All the CPA’s I’ve met are terrible

    • Anonymous says:

      "ACCA’s if they have to stoop lower"? What does this even mean? ACCA stands for Association of Certified Chartered Accountants and as far as I know CA stands for chartered accountant so a person cannot be an ACCA, they are essentially a chartered accountant aren’t they? 

      Not familiar with the CPA qualification process but I must admit that a lot of the persons I have met who proudly display the acronym behind their name have not impressed me at all. I get the impression they swatted and passed those exams and still don’t have a clue about what accounting is. 

      Sadly the CFO’s in Government are either CPA’s or CA’s but surprisingly I have learnt that in a lot of instances it is the lowly junior accounts clerk who are doing all the ground work for preparing these accounts and in some cases preparing the financial statements. Something to investigate perhaps?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why can we not fire the individuals who are responsible for this fiasco?

  11. Anonymous says:

    on the other hand… the weather here is great 

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is it a joke? Are those CPAs are Camanians or expats? Is it intentional or lack of accounting skills? One can’t become a CPA unless they have certain amount of hours of an audit expericence.

  13. Anonymous says:

    who fitting that the national symbol of the cayman islands is a turtle!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, so you think this is what they mean wen they say that the PFML was put in without the proper supporting systems. At least this new Auditor General appears to have identified a problem an a way to correct it. Lets just see if his bosses put the resources in to correcting the problem. Hopefully enough of the people who bought the white elephant are no longer around that someone else can now begin to renovate the room so it doesn’t stand out as much.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, but it is not the system that is at fault, it is the people in the system that do not want to be accountable for their actions that is sabotaging the system.

      How is it that companies with more hundreds of times more employees than all of the Cayman Islands work with the accrual accounting system and our government finds it so difficult? 

      If you do not have the will to do the job, then the job does not get done!

      Please change the people and not the system.


      • Anonymous says:

        The CFOs government has are those who could not survive in the private sector. Why else would they work for government’s pay scale when they could earn so much more.Some are Caymanian who were employed only because they were Caymanian (familiar story). Some were clapped out foreigners  – one foreign CFO still there and deadly opposed to the PFML from the start because it causes him hard work is nearly 70.Another left for a mega paying position in the Electricity Authority where he didn’t have to do much (as is the case in many positions in the Authorities at high pay).

  15. Anonymous says:

    i miss the straight talking of dan dugay

    • Me too! says:

      But I am glad to see his replacement still has the balls to say what needs to be said.  How embarrassing this is – not only for the government, but for Cayman too.  The government of our wonderful financial center can’t even get basic accounting done, and indeed, seem to lack the very education and skills that their qualifications supposedly mean they have.  Wonder what the UK will make of this little shambles?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, but look what happened to him, he wasnt fired, not exactly, but he was enough of a nuisance to have no chance of reappointment.

      Down the years there has been plenty to suggest that there is at best, misuse of public funds. There has always been a lack of accounting, either insufficient records or so late as to be useless. It isnt to difficult to put both these issues together and assume that government ministers have no interest in timely or accurate accounting, and definitely no interest in an auditor who digs deep.