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Austere measures ‘not enough’

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, [email protected]

Austere measures ‘not enough’

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THE AUDITOR GENERAL’S persistent reports about governance and accountability lapses in the public sector is sufficient proof that austere fiscal policy alone “will not solve anything critical within the public sector in the medium to long term”.

That’s the view of economist Jeremy Stephen, who urged the Barbados Audit Office to “continue with its efforts”.

Writing in the April edition of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados’ (ICAB) newsletter ICAB Chronicle, Stephen said the Auditor General’s annual reports “have been, for the most part, very forthcoming about lapses in governance and accountability within the public sector since they began”.

“However, the Barbadian public has only taken to its annual publication since fiscal year 2011-2012 by my calculations. Many individuals are left with the impression that these inefficacies are symptomatic of the current ruling party’s economic policies,” he noted.

“But given the fact that the Barbados Audit Office was mandated to examine public finances and report on them henceforth by the Financial Administration and Audit Act (1964), we can imagine that Government’s problems are truly systemic and transcend any single party’s rule.”

Stephen said the Auditor General’s report “offers the level of transparency needed to educate the public, and for the truly vested, to the foundation on which true and necessary reform can occur”.

“It is also a key document that finance and economic professionals should use to base their business forecasts on with macro economic data provided from trusted sources. It tends to reveal that operating costs for Government are grossly underestimated, for example,” he added.

“In the past, it also revealed the need to switch from cash to accrual accounting, thereby giving analysts a truer insight into the state of Government debt. The latter point led to a very key reform implemented eight years ago.” (SC)