Government Addresses Auditor General’s Annual Report Print E-mail
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Thursday, 26 August 2010 00:00

Belmopan, 23rd August, 2010.  

With respect to the recently tabled Annual Report of the Auditor General for the Year April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009, and in light of questions raised by members of the independent media, the Office of the Prime Minister wishes to state for the record, the following: 

1. While the Auditor General’s Annual Report does outline lingering failures with the operation of the government’s system of accounting, there is a clear distinction between such long-existing failures on the part of those operating the system and the deliberate and calculated abuse of power by Ministers and other elected officials that had become the norm under the last administration. Even where accounting failures are concerned, the bulk of what has been detailed by the Auditor General took place before February, 2008. 

2. The Government readily accepts the Auditor General’s criticisms and recommendations and is already taking measures to address them, including the revamping of the Finance and Audit Act and the strengthening and extension of the Finance and Stores orders. With the assistance of an expert through the Caribbean Development Bank, the relevant legislation is currently being drafted and should be introduced in the House of Representatives at its next sitting. The revamped legislation and accompanying regulations will include penalties for sins of commission and omission by those operating the system. 

3. Almost immediately, the Prime Minister is meeting with the Financial Secretary; and the issue will be discussed by Cabinet and tackled at the CEO level.

4. In light of the Auditor General’s stated concerns about inadequate records-keeping, the Office of the Prime Minister expects the opposition member who chairs the Public Accounts Committee of the House to make a special effort to convene a meeting of that committee at the earliest. Committee members from the government side stand ready to attend such a meeting to address the matters in question, starting with those dating back to the last administration.        

5. Finally, it must be noted that it is this Government that has amended the Constitution to ensure that reports by the Auditor General are tabled in the National Assembly in a prompt manner, empowering the Auditor General to independently table such a report through the Clerk of the National Assembly if the Minister of Finance fails to do so within seven (7) days after the first meeting of the House of Representatives following his receipt of the Auditor General’s report. 

This Administration reaffirms its commitment to an open and accountable government and will leave no stone unturned to ensure that this legitimate demand by the people of Belize is fully satisfied.