Auditor General’s Review Print E-mail
( 2 Votes )
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 25 April 2013 00:00

The Auditor General’s 2010/2011 report was released with its usual sensational thrust. However a real close review has exposed the true and cold facts. The truth is, it is nothing but a glorified gossip column. It was downright disappointing.

For the Government  Financial Year 2010/2011 the Audit Department  carried out twenty three (23) Compliance Audits, and two value for money Audits. There were four investigations done and these were not even initiated by Audit but by CEOs’ or Heads of Department. Compliance Audits are basically designed to ensure that GOB’s standard procedures are being adhered to. Therefore with only two value for money audits how then can the Auditor General fairly comment on Government state of affairs? The bulk of the report is taken from the Accountant’s General Report. This basically involves the extraction of figures.

Compounding a damning situation, The Auditor General proceeded to extract figures from the Accountant General’s Report, a report in which she states she has no confidence in and refused to render an opinion on.  A report, which from the get go was riddled with errors. She has extrapolated from this erroneous report figures for public consumption. To make matters worse, she has asked the Prime Minister to lay this very report before the House of Representative for acceptance.

A cursory look at the report to an untrained eye begs questions. In the foreign debt report, it is showing three loans from Bear Sterns and one from the Royal Merchant Bank. These were to the best of ones knowledge a part of the initial Super Bond. There are a series of loans shown in a negative figure suggesting that these loans were over paid. The mere fact that the report has data integrity problems should have dictated that it not be relied on for a report of such significant nature. The act of utilizing suspect information in a national report to be laid before the National Assembly either suggest disrespect or a don’t give a damn attitude that should not occur at the level of the Auditor General.

The report and previous reports constantly repeat the fact that Bank Accounts and other accounts are not reconciled. This constitute some serious short comings and the fact that no serious steps have been taken to rectify this situation for the past ten years says that those responsible are either incompetent or plain just do not care. At this juncture it should be noted that sometime between 2008 and 2011 the current Auditor General was also the Accountant General. It means that she at some time had an opportunity to reconcile these accounts and did not. Two of the key functions of the office of the Auditor General as per the report are,

1. “All reasonable precautions have been taken to safeguard the receipt, custody, issue and proper use of Government property, including stamps, securities and stores, and that the laws, instructions and directions relating thereto have been duly observed.”

2. “The Office of the Auditor General of Belize provides the National Assembly with the reliable, independent and fact-based information it needs to hold the Executive accountable for its stewardship of public funds.”

The first noted function would suggest then that the Auditor General should have made it her duty to ensure that an audit be carried out on affairs at the Treasury Department, to identify why these accounts are not reconciling. Most importantly if this has been the case for the past ten years, who is to say if GOB has not been exposed to monetary losses over that period. She is to ensure the safekeeping of GOB assets. In this regards she has failed miserably, and has deliberately chosen to feed this nation erroneous information of the worst nature and not qualifying the report. Such behavior is rather unforgiveable.

The reporting on the four investigations is designed for sensationalism more than fact. They fall very short, for although they identify fraud and shortcoming in control, at no point does the report suggest or advise GOB what measures or controls should be instituted to prevent reoccurrence. That should be a primary expectation from the result of any audit that identify wrong doing or material lack of controls.
For instance on page 50 at section 4.90 she reports on a Ford Ranger that was scrapped for which parts were bought for six months prior to the audit. While it looked suspicious the audit department, could not through concrete evidence point to any wrong doing. Despite being unable to verify wrong doing, this item made the report because the department had a feeling something was amiss.  Yet, in the report it is stressed that, “The Office of the Auditor General of Belize provides the National Assembly with the reliable, independent and fact-based information it needs to hold the Executive accountable for its stewardship of public funds.” One can only conclude that entries such as these are designed for their sensational content rather than factual value.

After reading through one hundred and seventy four (174) pages, we are only given about four cases of wrong doing by public servants. Not one section was dedicated to the rendering some commentary Public Accounts, not even an opinion. Most note worthy however is that while it has sensational value, no way no how can any wrong doing be attributed to any politician. Happy hunting Julius!!!!!!!!!!!!!