Auditor-General urges action on $3.7bn debt
Auditor-General Heather Thomas has urged the Bermuda Government to take action after revealing net debt had reached $3.7 billion.
The statements of the Consolidated Fund for the year ending March 2017, tabled in the House on Friday, showed net debt had increased by $243 million in the past fiscal year.
Ms Thomas said she was not giving a qualified audit opinion of the financial statements.
But she added: “I believe that the Government needs to take concerted action to address this fiscal challenge.”
The auditor also questioned the usefulness of the financial statements because they do not include the financial positions of Government-controlled groups.
She said: “It’s important that Parliament and the public understand that the Consolidated Fund financial statements are not summary financial statements of the Government of Bermuda and, therefore, do not represent the full nature and extent of the overall financial affairs and liabilities of the Government of Bermuda.
“The statements cover only the financial results and position of Government ministries and departments, the House of Assembly, the Senate and the courts.
“They do not include the financial results or the financial position of organisations, such as the Bermuda Hospitals Board, the Bermuda Housing Corporation, and the Bermuda Land Development Company Limited, through which significant financial activities of the Government occur.”
Ms Thomas added that the Consolidated Fund financial statements were tabled several months earlier than in recent years.
But she warned: “We are not there yet. For the Government not to table audited financial statements within six months after its year end is not in keeping with current international practice for good government accountability.
“It means that Members of Parliament and the public do not have timely access to important information.”
More reports will be issued in the coming weeks.
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