EDITORIAL: Report demands action
Every year for many years we have been reading and hearing of the laments of Auditors General in their reports annually laid in Parliament.
These audit findings consistently point to all types of wastages, inefficiencies and generally very poor governance. This year, the trend continued with the question being raised openly: How can these things happen and what action is being taken to prevent any recurrence?
Unfortunately, raising the question is where it seems to begin and end. The litany of woes continues to be outlined every 12 months, but with rarely any follow-up action – certainly not made known to the public. This is certainly a situation where the public should be informed of the outcomes since as taxpayers they have a vested stake in how the public sector performs.
We must be grateful to the holders of the office of Auditor General, especially those of recent times, as they have sought not only to do their job as required by law, but to also put in writing all those things that are wrong and should be corrected. They are the guardians against the wrong that is done and must inform the shareholders – the public. Unfortunately, the directors and management seem not to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.
Our annual parade of misdeeds within the public sector as highlighted in the Auditor General’s report cannot be continually ignored or used primarily for political gain when it favours a party or individual. We need to bring an end to the problems whether caused by incompetence, inefficiency or downright fraud and/or theft. Based on some of the things highlighted in the 2012 Auditor General’s report, the system is clearly broken and in need of urgent repair.
One can only come to such conclusions given what has been reported about the shortfall of funds at the Inland Revenue Department, the lack of audited accounts at a number of parastatals and financial discrepancies in so many areas across Government. In a most telling statement, the Auditor General wrote: “In my opinion, the financial statements presented for audit did not, in all material aspects, fairly represent the financial position of the Government of Barbados as at March 31, 2012.”
This is an unacceptable situation that has to be reined in. The same due diligence required of auditors in the private sector must be practised by those in the public sector. In the prevailing economic circumstances, the demand for greater accountability and transparency, we must avoid unnecessary errors and pitfalls.
We must adhere to the financial rules and regulations, particularly those relating to the audit process.