Too slack

Auditor General takes strong issue with BRA

It has been established as this island’s umbrella revenue policing agency, with primary responsibility for enforcement of the tax collection system.

However, based on the latest Auditor General Report for 2016, Government may well need to guard its revenue guard.

Following a detailed audit of the operations of the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA), Auditor General Leigh Trotman has reported several infelicities, including a shortage of vital financial accounting information, understated tax revenues and unverifiable refunds balances.

And even though no shares have been issued by the central revenue collection agency, it is laughable that a figure for share capital was reported in BRA’s statement of changes of equity for the 2015/2016 financial year.

“This is misleading and should be corrected to reflect a more accurate assessment of the activities of the Fund,” the Auditor General has warned.

In his just-released 152-page report for last year, Trotman also reported that even though BRA reported assets of $3.7 million and liabilities of $392,000, there were no schedules or other forms of documentation presented to support these balances.

At the same time, grant income from the Ministry of Finance in the amount of $28 million was understated by $4.3 million, while the Authority’s expenditure was said to be overstated by $309,000.

The Auditor General has also raised alarm over the actions of the Margaret Sivers-led management team, which has been accused of acting without approval of the board on several matters,

“Based on the Authority’s Act, the Board of the Barbados Revenue Authority should approve the annual estimates of expenditure and other expenditure not included in the estimates,” the Auditor General pointed out, adding that “the Board should approve all policies established by the Barbados Revenue Authority (for example the issuance of cellular phones and payment plans)”.

The audit report for the financial year ended March 31, 2016 highlighted several instances in which insurance premiums for assets held by the Authority were not renewed in a timely manner, resulting in periods in which there was no insurance coverage for vehicles.

“This situation poses risk if the assets were to be damaged and stolen. For example, insurance renewals were $10,099.48 for computers, and $1,677.12 for two vehicles.”

These payments were due on April 2, 2015 and January15, 2016 respectively, but payments were made on December 31, 2015 and January 29, 2016 respectively.

“Insurance policies should be renewed on their respective anniversary dates to ensure the vehicles are covered for accident and injury at all times. The purpose of insurance is to reduce the risk to the entity,” the Auditor General warned.

Issues of payroll were also raised after it was discovered that audited seniors were being paid fixed salaries even though there was no documentation to support the authorization of this practice.

“It is recommended that the necessary action should be taken to have an approved Board policy indicating salary bands that are fixed and the movements between the bands.

“Employment letters should be amended to reflect the positions that are entitled to annual increments,” the Auditor General said.

He also recommended that “audit issues, once presented, should be addressed in a timely manner, to ensure that such issues do not recur in subsequent years”.

As for its revenue collection activities, the BRA audit came up short on information to support a brought-forward balance of $19.6 million related to refunds from the bank accounts of some legacy agencies as at April 1, 2014; net receivables amounting to $995 million; a difference in highway revenue receivables of $9.5 million and other receivables of $234 million.

There were also no financial schedules in support of $1.2 billion in total liabilities, including tax refunds payable.

As for the figure of $37 million which was given for income tax refunds and $105 million for corporate tax refunds, these could not be verified, neither could the Authority’s Statement of Administered Revenue, which was recorded at $2.1 million.

The Auditor General’s review of BRA’s accounting records also revealed an unexplained difference of $749,000 between unreconciled cash and unpresented cheques as at March, 31, 2016. There was a further difference of $1.2 million between what was presented in the schedules and the statement of administered revenues.

More alarmingly, property taxes came up short by $57 million after a comparison was made by the Auditor General of the expected revenue and actual taxes collected.

kaymarjordan@barbadostoday.bb

10 Responses to Too slack

  1. Tony Webster June 1, 2017 at 5:59 am

    I “rise”…to defend anything that upholds such nationally-critical issues…er….assets. Mr. Trotman, is of course right to judge all under his purview, but in this instance, I feel…er….consider…that a softer, kinder, more fulsome and rounded stricture be taken to adjust any “slack” observed in the matter(s) which have disturbed him. A touchy-feely approach, is breast…er…best.

    There indeed might be some sorta collusion abreast the whole matter, since a prominent lady yesterday in a Big House said sumptin’ about revoking the BRA thing ( a BRA – amendment act , to be more accurate).

    Call me anytime to help out on any BRA matter.

    Putting-on my other, professional, hat….I can however affirm that the matter of reconciling one’s actual bank balance, as reported per the banks routine statements of account, is absolutley critical to safeguarding one’s fortunes , as it is ignorance of the highest order, (and lowest professional accounting rung), to merely assume that what one has for “Bank balance” on your own books, is the actual amount which is presumably safely stored and secured in our nation’s banks/credit Unions- or even Meeting-Turns. Slackness in doing so, routinely, and carefully, will almost surely result in a big BRAm..and everything popping-out exposing all for evahbody to see. Accounting 101, you might say.

    Dear me… my slip is also showing. Badly.

    Reply
  2. Browne-love Jan
    Browne-love Jan June 1, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Smh

    Reply
  3. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner June 1, 2017 at 7:27 am

    Every year Auditor General makes his report about loose slack accounting and dubious pratices with taxpayer monies but yet government after government which includes both of these two political parties that have ever only govern Barbados just ignores it.Talk about accountability and transparency guess those are taboo words for politicians in Barbados.

    Reply
  4. Kevin June 1, 2017 at 10:00 am

    The BRA needs accounting staff. Let me send in my CV right away.

    Reply
  5. Milli Watt June 1, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    sstttuuupppssseeeee……wuh de ras I hearing.

    Reply
  6. Donild Trimp June 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    My goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what a bunch of slackers and these people still have jobs?

    The fraud squad from the CID needs to start an investigation.

    The following must be investigated immediately.

    “As for the figure of $37 million which was given for income tax refunds and $105 million for corporate tax refunds, these could not be verified, neither could the Authority’s Statement of Administered Revenue, which was recorded at $2.1 million”

    Reply
  7. Petra June 1, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    What a mess. Hope Mia cleans it up or else she would have to eat her words. What a ridiculous pack

    Reply
  8. Sisleen Greene June 1, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Not surprise at BRAs audited report. That department has become a haven for political croonies from the boss lady down, after them it is family and friends chosen by an inept lady and her team.
    The head of BRA has always flattered to deceive many at the top, including the previous P.M.
    I hope they recognise now that paper qualifications, large salaries and big rides do not equate to efficiency. Included there must also be experience and knowledge.
    BRA’s Boss ran all the long standing employees of the previous IRD because it was her department and experience was not an asset.

    Reply
  9. Sunshine Sunny Shine June 2, 2017 at 12:08 am

    The Auditor General reports the same madness every year.
    The findings speak for themselves.
    None of the two political parties does anything about it.
    None of the two political parties wants to investigate the missing millions.
    This is the reason why the powers of the Auditor General need to increase exponentially.
    This is the reason why the need greater financial security need Integrity, Transparency, Accountability, Anticorruption legislation, Freedom of Information, Whistle Blower legislation, and a Special Authority, not the shytie PAC, whose mandate under a strict set of laws, can cancel, go after, and bring to justice any politician or governmnt official who breaks the financial rules.

    Reply
  10. Pat June 2, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    So why is it that every year the people of this country are being taxed. I am sure if they clean up this mess then we may find ourselves in a better position.

    This has not now started. It tells me that the politicians of both parties are not interested in the people of this country only their votes.

    People please open your eyes. It does not take a rocket scientist to see what is going on here

    Reply

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