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Gov’t reporting improves, but OAG says more can be done

Auditor General Sue Winspear says Government is getting better at accounting for its spending from the public purse.
However, she says governance at certain entities are creating increased risks for mismanagement and abuse and the public service is still open to breaches of the law through non-compliance. She’s recommending key changes to plug those holes.

Government scored high marks for overall improvement in its financial reporting in the latest Office of the Auditor General (OAG) 2015-2016 compendium report.
But while Auditor General Sue Winspear said strides were made she says there’s still much left to be done to address the shortfalls in the public sector’s accountability for spending.

To this end Ms. Winspear and her team are pushing for the creation of audit and risk committees across the civil service and state enterprises to ensure better accountability for spending from the public purse.

In her report Ms. Winspear said progress continues to be made in government’s financial reporting as over the last 5 years 2011- 2012 to 2o15-2016 modified audit opinions like qualified. Adverse or disclaimed dropped from 51 per cent to 17 per cent.
And at the end of 2015/2016 30 entities received unqualified audit opinions.

“(It’s) the highest number yet, and there are no adverse or disclaimed entity audit opinions at all. This is markedly better than only four years ago when over half of all entities received either a qualified, adverse or disclaimed audit opinion,” she said.
When it comes audit opinions getting unqualified is the aim. It means the financials are clean, while qualified, adverse or disclaimer means the books are bad.
While she noted improvements Ms. Winspear said a number of examples of non-compliance with the law and regulations were found like procurements without competitive tendering, a no-no under the financial regulations.

She pointed out as of 30 June, 2016 there were six qualified opinions an adverse opinion for the entire public sector account and a disclaimer for the schedule of appropriations were issued.
The Auditor General said she’s still waiting on 11 audits from six entities. Those include the Cabinet Office, the ministries of Home Affairs and Education, as well as, Cinico and the Airports Authority.
As for her calls for audit and risk committees across the public sector, we reached to Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service Hon. Franz Manderson for comment, we are yet to hear back.

About the author

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath is a Trinidadian journalist with 18 years media experience with a strong background in print with her most recent stint at The Cayman Reporter. She has a BA in Mass Communications, as well as, an Associate degree in Journalism and Public Relations.

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