Too many Govt entities boxing in the dark

It is responsible for the promotion and regulation of the sport of boxing in Barbados. But according to the Auditor General Leigh Trotman, the Barbados Boxing Board of Control has literally been boxing in the dark for the past 20 years – at least when it comes to its financial reporting.

Even though the board receives an annual grant from Government and is required to have its accounts audited by the Barbados Audit Office, no such audit has been done over the past 20 years, Trotman revealed in his recently released annual report for 2016 in which he said he was specifically advised that no statements would be available for the financial years 1994 to 2004.

And even though financial statements were presented for the 2005 to 2015 reporting period, the Auditor General said these had proven to be grossly inadequate.

“The Board needs to address this deficiency to facilitate the audit of its accounts being brought up to date,” Trotman said in his latest review of the operations of the state.

Concerns were also expressed about the tardiness of a number of other statutory boards, Government companies and controlled entities, including the National Insurance Fund, in reporting on their financial performance.

In fact, even though the local social security scheme had contracted a private firm to carry out its audits for the financial years 2006 to 2009, that firm indicated that it was having challenges in obtaining the relevant schedules to complete the requisite financial reviews which are required by law.

Similarly, the audits of the National Insurance Scheme-administered Severance Payment Fund for the financial years 2010 to 2015 were also outstanding; so too the Unemployment Fund as well as those for the Retraining Fund, established in 2010 by Government for the retraining of persons who have become unemployed.

The National Assistance Board, which provides assistance to poor and needy persons, has also been operating in breach of Section 6 (2) of the NAB Act, Cap. 48, which mandates the Board to submit to the Auditor General for audit, its annual accounts, within three months of the end of each financial year.

“The statements of accounts of the Board for the financial years ended March 31, 2014, 2015 and 2016 have not been submitted for audit,” Auditor General reported.

He also pointed out that audits for the National Sports Council have been outstanding since 2008, while the 2011 audits for the Transport Board and the Transport Authority were still in progress.

The National Housing Corporation, which has recently been in the news for its layoff of workers, was last audited in financial year 2013 while a detailed financial review of the operations of the National Council for Substance Abuse was last done in 2012.

Operations at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital have also been brought into disrepute with the Auditor General reporting that no detailed financial checks have been carried out since 2012, while at the National Petroleum Corporation, on whose behalf Government has recently been lobbying for a natural gas price hike, the last financial audit was carried out back in 2014.

Both the urban and rural development commissions are also substantially in arrears, with audits outstanding for both entities as far back as 2008.

In terms of educational institutions, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic has not been audited for over ten years while the Barbados Community College, the Barbados Hospitality Institute and the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College are still to submit information on their 2013 financial performances.

And of the Government run secondary schools, there are audits outstanding for Lester Vaughan since 2010; Christ Church Foundation and Combermere since 2011; Coleridge and Parry since 2012; and The Alexandra School, Grantley Adams Memorial, Parkinson Memorial, Queen’s College, Springer Memorial, St George Secondary, St Leonard’s Boys and St Michael School since 2013.

The 2010 and 2013 audits of the Catastrophe Fund, which provides financial aid to people whose homes are damaged by a disaster, are also yet to be finalized, while the 2014 and 2015 accounts of the Fund have not yet been submitted for audit.

Audits for the Community Legal Services Commission, which provides legal aid to persons who need assistance and meet the established criteria, have also fallen into arrears.

In his report, the Auditor General pointed out that even though the commission’s 2010 and 2011 financial statements were audited, adjusted financial statements still have to be submitted to facilitate completion.

“The audits of the accounts for the financial years ended March 31, 2012 to 2016 are outstanding,” the Auditor General explained.

“It is time for the Board and the Ministry to intervene and end this most unsatisfactory state of affairs,” the Auditor General said.

He also pointed out that the financial statements of the Sanitation Service Authority for the financial years ended March 31, 2010 to 2013 were submitted, and these will be audited during 2017. The financial statements for the years ended March 31, 2014, 2015 and 2016 have not yet been submitted for audit.

From the looks of things, the financial picture is not a sweet one for a number of sugar entities – namely the Sugar Factory Smoke Control Board; the Sugar Industry Research and Development Fund and the Sugar Workers’ Provident Fund which have all fallen behind on their audits.

In the meantime, audits are said to be ongoing for the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation and the Barbados Cane Industry Corporation for the 2013 and 2014 financial years.

However, nearly three years after it was replaced by two new tourism entities, an audit is yet to be completed of the books of the now defunct Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) for the financial years 2012, 2013 and the period ending August 2014 when it went out of operation.

In this same vein, audits are outstanding for 2014 and 2016 for both the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority, which took over from the BTA.

In keeping with the worrying malaise that has affected the bread and butter tourism sector, audits for the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. are also outstanding since 2014.

“Agencies whose audits are in arrears need to re-examine their accounting systems, processes and staffing to see how they can be improved,” Trotman advised, while warning late financial reporting could lead to all manner of headaches, including fraud. 

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