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PAC Chairman concerns: Auditor General Report 2014-2015

On June 20 the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr. Julius Espat, spoke eloquently on the leaked Auditor General, Mrs. Dorothy Ann Smith Bradley, Report for the year April 2014 to March 2015. In the age of quick information one would think that this is stale news. Nevertheless, the implication clearly is that the Government does not want this information to go out to the Belizean public. This report is to be done as a matter of law and then tendered to the House since January 2019 but it has not.

Jogging our memory, 2015 was the year of the PetroCaribe General Elections. The complete report is full of financial jargon but here you can see some of excerpts. Be your own judge.

2.5  In my opinion, the Financial Statements do not give ta true and fair view of the  Government’s financial position as at March 31, 2015.

2.11 Note 750 Audit found that several Audit Bank balances differed from the corresponding Smart Stream balances. Smart stream balance as at March 31, 2015 was $46, 062,145.21 and the bank balances totalled $36, 198, 536.32 resulting in a difference of $9, 863, 608.89. It would appear that transactions are not posted. Also, that Accountant General confirmed that reconciliations were not up to date.

2.12 We observed that there are legislations for two separate and distinct funds, namely the “Police Welfare Fund” and the “Police Trust Fund”. No Savings Banks accounts were found for neither of these funds. The Savings Bank Account we observed is entitled “Police Reward Fund” and no regulations were found for this “fund”.

Further Examinations revealed that all monies collected from police officers, whether for disciplinary fines, other fines, and the one-day deduction from all police officers’ salaries are all being placed in the “Police Reward Fund”.

Research into Report Manager, Smart Stream, Police Reward Account Balance, a liability account had a balance of $350, 679.15 as at 31 March 2015. No interest was recorded the whole year. However, verification to the corresponding Ledger Card revealed a balance of 229, 832.10 as of March 31, 2015.

2.15 Arrears of Revenue were poorly managed. It was evident that the Government was not in a position to realize its outstanding arrears due to Accounting Officers negligence.

  1. 16 Management of the Savings Bank continues to deteriorate. The Accountant General’s Office lacks the knowledge of the Banking Industry.

2.21 We found that the Ministry of Finance, Accountant General and Central Bank’s recording of transactions did not reconcile. Ten loans had different opening and closing balances that were seen between the Commonwealth Secretariat Debt Recording and Management System(CS-DRM).

According to the Ministry of Finance differences were because of currency conversion. The exchange difference totalled 740, 588.15. The exchange rate is material and warrants a review of how contracts are being processed taking into consideration actual costs.

2.23  When comparing Central Bank’s report and financial statement opening loan balances, closing loan balances, and disbursements for ALBA PetroCaribe Belize Energy Ltd.. it was observed that the figures were different as demonstrated in Table 4. The difference of opening balances is $13, 566, 156.62 whilst the disbursement difference is $25, 573, 922.60 and the difference of closing balance is 2, 978, 952.37.

3.18 While the Public Accounts Committee is being revitalized there are yet obstacles impeding it from achieving efficiency to ensure full impact of its purpose. I(Auditor General) believe that for the PAC to be effective structural change is essential.

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