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Government reporting better, but issues still remain

Government 18 Feb, 2020 Follow News

Auditor General Sue Winspear

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has just released its report on the audits of Cayman’s 40 Government Ministries, Portfolios, Offices, Statutory Authorities and Government Companies’ financial accounts for the year ending 31st December 2018. Out of the 36 entities that have submitted their audited financial reports, all 36 have got the thumbs up from the OAG, with just four entities’ audits still outstanding. The four entities’ audits whose accounts are still outstanding for 2018 are: The Ministry of Health, Environment and Culture; the Airports Authority; the Turtle Centre and Cayman Airways Limited. The Ministry of Health, Environment and Culture, and the Airports Authority are outstanding for the prior period of 2016-17 as well, the OAG said.

“The 2018 entity financial audits are mostly complete with only four entities outstanding at this time. I am delighted that of the 36 audited so far, I have not given a single audit qualification which demonstrates the marked improvement in the quality of government financial reporting over the years. It also means that by the end of 2019, my office has virtually cleared the audit backlog leaving only four entities still with audits outstanding,” the Auditor General Sue Winspear said

The fact that the Auditor General has not qualified any of the 2018 reports so far was an improvement as, in 2008-09, only 37 per cent of entity audits were unqualified with 39 per cent of them being qualified and 24% per cent disclaimed compared to 100 per cent unqualified to date for the 2018 audits.

But even though the Auditor General had no major issues with the audit of the financial accounts, the OAG pointed out that the financial results of Statutory Authorities and Government Companies (SAGCs) “continues to show a mixed picture.” On the positive side, the Port Authority and Water Authority both returned to profit for the first time since 2014-15. However, 13 SAGCs recorded a deficit in 2018 and several of these have had a long-standing deficit position, The OAG noted UCCI, the National Drug Council and the National Gallery had all gone from a surplus in 2016-2017 to deficit position in 2018.

“...a good proportion of SAGCs show signs of being under financial strain and CINICO, the Turtle Centre, Cayman National Cultural Foundation and both Sister Islands Affordable Housing Development Corporation and National Housing Development Trust have all consistently recorded year on year deficits,” the report noted.

This situation would continue to be the case in most instances without changes in operations, business restructuring or ongoing and further government support or changes in government policy, the OAG stated.

The Auditor General made a series of recommendations to continue improving financial reporting in Government, including the need for annual reports to be laid in the Legislative Assembly in a timely way to ensure accountability and compliance with the law but most importantly to help inform the public of all the work being done by public sector entities in a timely way.

The report is available at www.auditorgeneral.gov.ky.

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