Don’t simply blame the Auditor General for any misstatement about Government operations, unpaid debts and money the administration owes to individuals and firms, says Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
Instead, much of the blame can be placed at the doors of senior civil servants, especially permanent secretaries, who fail to provide the Auditor General with timely and accurate information for an up-to date accounting of Government finances, he added.
In defending the Auditor General, Stuart told scores of Bajans at a Brooklyn Town Hall meeting recently that problems with the report could be traced directly to permanent secretaries and other top civil servants who often fail to respond on time to requests about Government finances.
Asked about the accuracy of the Auditor General’s report that sounded an alarm about the $300 million-plus outstanding debt owed the Government by individuals and firms, Stuart said that “all too often permanent secretaries or other senior officials in the various ministries do not get back to the Auditor General in as timely a way as they should”. When that occurs, the Auditor General “just works with the information he has,” said Stuart.
The trouble starts, insisted the Prime Minister, when the Auditor General writes to Government departments for “comment” on his preliminary findings while urging them to reply by a specific time. Unfortunately, far too many top civil servants don’t act on time.
Stuart said that it was only after the information is made public then the complaint arises that the report didn’t paint an accurate picture of the financial situation.
The town hall meeting was sponsored by the Friends of Barbados DLP Association, the ruling party’s New York branch. (TB)