OUT OF WORK
Auditor General report zeroes in on liaison office in Miami
It was set up to administer a hotel attachment programme for Barbadians in the United States.
However, a recent audit of the Barbados Liaison Office in Miami shows that over the past four years, not a single Barbadian worker has been selected to work under this seasonal employment programme which carries an annual budget of just over US$308,000.
The revelation is contained in this year’s Auditor General’s report.
Auditor General Leigh Trotman raised concern about the significant sums being spent by Government without any obvious returns.
He has called on the Ministry of Labour to conduct an assessment of the programme to see how it can be improved or, alternatively, whether it should be discontinued.
Arising out of a 2014 audit of statutory boards and Government controlled companies and entities, the Auditor General has also lamented the generally poor state of their accounts, as well as the untimely completion of financial audits.
Given the fact that these agencies receive hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, he said they should have their accounts audited annually as required by law.
Among the entities highlighted was the National Insurance Fund for which the last complete audit was done in 2003. Trotman warned that this fund – from which benefit payments are made to Barbadian workers – was too important to the country for the audit of its accounts to be in such a state.
Therefore, he said “some tough decisions on the way forward for this matter need to be made during 2015”, adding that he had already indicated to the Department and the private auditors that where the financial information requested by the auditors was not available by a specified time, the requisite audit opinion should be given based on the information provided.
“Taking such a course of action along with the provision of adequate audit resources by the auditors, is the only way that progress will be made on this audit,” Trotman said.
As at March 31, 2014, audits for the Severance Payment Fund were also incomplete. So too were those for the Unemployment Fund and the Retraining Fund, as well as the Sugar Industry Research and Development Fund and the Sugar Workers’ Provident Fund.
Other areas of concern include the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, the Sanitation Service Authority, the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation and the Transport Board, whose accounts for the year ended March 31, 2010 were still being finalized.
In the case of the Barbados Water Authority, the Auditor General said “the audit of the accounts for the financial years ended March 31, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 was ongoing”, while “the audits for the financial years ended March 31, 2013 and 2014 also remain outstanding”.
Also in arrears were the National Conservation Commission, National Council on Substance Abuse, National Cultural Foundation, National Housing Corporation and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, whose “audits of the accounts for the financial years ended March 31, 2009 and 2010 were reported to be in progress”.
The audits of the accounts for both the Rural and Urban Development Commissions for the financial years ended March 31, 2008 to 2014 were outstanding.
In the case of the former Barbados Tourism Authority, whose functions were recently taken over by two new tourism agencies, audits were outstanding for the financial years ended March 31, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The Auditor General also reported that Barbados Community College (BCC) has not been audited for five (5) years and the Barbados Hospitality Institute for six (6) years, a condition which he described as “unacceptable”.
Audits were also done of 20 Government-run secondary schools, whose books were not up to date.
Please also see: From the Auditor General’s Report 2.