BVI News

Lack of resources could set back outstanding financial audits even furth

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

Government’s outstanding financial audits for the last three years is in jeopardy of falling even further behind due to the lack of human resources at the Office of the Auditor General.

 Auditor General Sonia Webster made that disclosure during the recently-concluded Standing Finance Committee (SFC) proceedings.

According to the 2020 SFC report on the proceedings, “the Auditor General stated one of the primary objectives for 2020 is bringing the statutory bodies accounts up to date. She noted, however, that one of her major challenges was a shortage of staff. She stated that the department has four senior auditor posts that are vacant and there is a new procedure, where a department has to apply to have a position advertised. A request was made to have one of the vacant posts advertised. However, she had not received a response”.

Outstanding reports should be treated as national emergency

During the said SFC meeting, the government minister Carvin Malone asked what could be done to have the 2017, 2018 and 2019 financial statements submitted by June or August 2020. 

Malone then noted that he had asked the Minister of Finance to have this matter as “a national emergency to have the accounts of the country audited no matter what the circumstances”.

 In response, Webster said the issue of inadequate staffing must be addressed to facilitate bringing the accounts up to date.

“… Without someone assisting the Accountant General, she could foresee that there might be challenges in obtaining the amendments that are needed to complete the 2017 statements, in addition to obtaining the submission of the 2018 statements which were due by March 2019. She further stated that if the Treasury Department is to achieve what the Minister was suggesting, the department would need the necessary resources,” the SFC report stated. 

Near-decade of unaudited financial statements a setback

The Government had not done a financial audit of its accounts from as far back as 2010. And in July of 2018, government’s Financial Secretary Glenroy Forbes told BVI News that unaudited financial statements for that near-decade-long period had affected the government’s ability to secure loans for hurricane recovery. He said that included those being sought through the UK’s loan guarantee offer.

He said although talks are being held with various financial institutions, ‘it is done at a point of weakness’, because of the unaudited financial statements.

Since then Office of the Auditor General has managed to complete financial audits from 2010 to 2016, BVI News understands.

Why weren’t the statements being audited?

The territory was without an auditor general between 2015 and 2017. That two-year gap, however, would only be a fraction of the reason government has not been preparing the required audited reports on its annual spending.

Government began submitting its outstanding reports after January 2018 when Webster came out of retirement and returned to her post as Auditor General of the BVI. Webster had served a number of years as Auditor General for the BVI before retiring in 2015.

Over the years, the previous NDP government — which was in power for the last two terms (2011 to early 2019) — received heavy criticism for not producing the required annual audited statements.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

13 Comments

Disclaimer: BVI News and its affiliated companies are not responsible for the content of comments posted or for anything arising out of use of the comments below or other interaction among the users.

  1. Finally!! says:

    This has always been an issue and people have been putting all the blame on the statutory bodies. This is one of the major problems—this office never gets around to the “audit!”

    Lots of talk but no action…..now you know!

    Like 12
  2. Hmmmmm says:

    no surprises…..oh the games that they play….hmmmm.

  3. Michael Helm says:

    The BVI is a major international Financial Center. There is so much experienced, qualified personnel working in the private sector, why can’t the Government second some tempory personnel until this crisis is over and or the vacant posts are filled?

    Like 10
  4. Diaspora says:

    The VI is rocking a $414M Operations & Maintenance/Capital budget so insufficient funds should not be the issue. The issue is poor and ineffective budget authorization, appropriation, allocation, execution, prioritization…..etc. It is shameful and embarrassing to have decades of audit not performed but the claim of insufficient funds is like putting cocobay pun top ah yaws. How the hell can you effectively run the territory with all these unaudited reports? Simple answer is you cannot

    . An unaudited report is like an unbalanced checkbook or debit card. A comprehensive accounting and financial report (CAFR) should be completed no later than three months after the end of the fiscal/ budget year. This is typically but the BVI going decades——-only in the BVI. Mr. Premier is this part of that unconventional nonsense? It is crap like this that keeps the UK in our business. Stop the crap and get ah dun. Sure the Guv will have something to say but may be not, for it is not about…..?

    Like 11
    • RealPol says:

      @Diaspora,real talk. With all the unaudited reports, the BVI is being run on the tip of iceberg data, not information.It is scary to think what is beneath the surface of the iceberg.Conducting these audits soonest should be a national priority;it is good governance. It is a conventional practice. If this is not address urgently Barry say you will hear! Look like you flinging a likle shade at the crown rep. Well mai boi, ting te tark!

  5. LOL says:

    THE BODYGUARDS WERE HIRED RATHER QUICKLY SO WHY CANT WE DO THE SAME HERE?

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
  6. Da plane says:

    What’s the status of the investigation into the missing $7.2?

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
  7. Foolishness says:

    Priorities are given to actions that are important. BVI govts present and past are so keen on audits to keep showing how incompetent they have been, so nobody does them. At this stage, one should be not be surprised if an audit is not possible because there are not even documents to review, just like KPMG said after Pier Park audit (insufficient documents to complete an audit was their conclusion, after 1 year and about $ 1 million in fees).

    This is why no one wants to lend the Territory money at affordable interest rates, and that’s why RDA was set up.

    Like 10
  8. LOL! says:

    And they complain that everything is the UK and Governor fault. This is shameful, really shameful! Now you realize why the UK loan guarantee comes with so many strings? Inept, irresponsible, all of them, God help us!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Who keeps audits when the modus opernardi is a high way of anvenues and highways of public to private purses?

  10. Jane says:

    This is why the UK government is insisting on the RDA. It is the very lack of this type of check and balance which enables the looting of the public purse to go on.

  11. Fed up the Possibility of Existing Corruption says:

    I am not one, though i am a realist, who believes that the the UK or any other european entity shuold be or have anything to do with or be involved in the BVI affairs at this juncture in human economic, political, socio or other developmental history.

    Afterall, a child grows up, leaves and becomes independent and self sufficient. So to nations must be be allowed to do the same in the 21st century.

    Colonialism, neocolonialism and other forms of external foriegn rule all relics of a bygone era, must come to and end, and be lifted from the lives and history of other humans, that they be allowed to pursue their own destiny on their own accord, sink or swin, succeed or fail.

    To that thesis, the BVI and its leaders must get its “checks and balances” in order, clean up stealing and corruption where it exist, and engage in nation and people build ing politics and policies.

    Moreover, the idea of entering politics to gain wealth and beome financially affluent must be discouraged by the voting public. Further, there must be stringent active legislation watch dog legislation enacted to ensure that checks and balances become mandatory operating policies of the government.

  12. Concerned BVIslander says:

    Civilzed minds/humans must not read and take lightly the comments denegrating the lady because of her African ancestry and Black people in general.

    Those that engage in such thiking are vile, evil peoplle of the devil.

    If they can be so comfortable in posting such hatred about others suggest that is what they are.

    They are clearly then capable of committing atrociously inhumane genocidal atrocoties and other violence [not just verbal as they are doing now]against same Black people, as their forefathers have done in the past.

    Hence, take not those vicious racial psting filled with prejudicial hatred lightly.

    A warning to all. They are here and hating us viciously. They will kill and or exterminate if given the opportunity.

    Like 3
    Dislike 1

Leave a Comment

Shares