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Auditor General critical of Govt accounts

Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews this evening said Government failed to adhere to international practice by producing late and incomplete 2011/12 financial statements.

For the fourth successive year, the Auditor gave a qualified opinion on the financial statements of the Consolidated Fund, which cover the year through March 31, 2012.

She also urged Government to take “concerted action” over the high level of net debt, which stood at $2.4 billion at March 31, 2012 — up almost $350 million from a year earlier.

“For the Government not to present complete and accurate financial statements for audit within six months after its year end is not in keeping with current international practice for good government accountability,” Ms Jacobs Matthews said yesterday, after the statements were tabled in the House of Assembly.

Mrs Jacobs Matthews noted that her qualified audit opinion on the statements of the Consolidated Fund was due to “serious deficiencies in internal control over the management of various development projects that occurred in the year ended March 31, 2009”.

She explained that the deficiencies led her to question “the appropriateness of certain transactions and the underlying value of assets as at March 31, 2009”.

Without the benefit of an independent professional valuation which was to be undertaken by the Accountant General for the current year under audit, the Auditor General advised that “she is still unable to determine whether adjustments might be necessary to tangible capital assets and the accumulated deficit as at March 31, 2012”.

She added that she was disappointed that the initial financial statements provided by the Accountant General “required significant adjustments resulting in delays in the audit process and in the issuance of the Independent Auditor's Report”.

The Auditor General also highlighted the section of her Independent Auditor's Report entitled “Other matters”. She said this section did not represent a qualification of her Auditor's Opinion, but was used to report significant matters that in her professional opinion should be brought to the attention of Parliament and to the public.

In this section, she drew attention to the growing debt and several incidences of non-compliance with the Government's Financial Instructions, which form the standard for financial controls for the Government.

“Although these incidences of non-compliance did not lead me to qualify my audit opinion for the current year, I felt it necessary to stress the importance of the Government adhering to its internal control framework,” Mrs Jacobs Matthews said.

In her report, the Auditor General cautions readers that the usefulness of the financial statements of the Consolidated Fund for the year ended March 31, 2012 is limited.

“It is important that Parliament and the public understand that the Consolidated Fund financial statements cover only the financial results and position of Government ministries and departments, the House of Assembly, the Senate and the courts,” Mrs Jacobs Matthews said.

“They do not include the financial results or the financial position of other Government-controlled organisations, such as the Bermuda Hospitals Board, the Bermuda Housing Corporation, the Bermuda College, the Bermuda Land Development Company Limited and the West End Development Corporation, through which significant financial activities of the Government occur.

“Consequently, the Consolidated Fund financial statements do not represent the full nature and extent of the overall financial resources and liabilities of the Government of Bermuda.”

Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews

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Published February 08, 2013 at 7:00 pm (Updated February 08, 2013 at 7:02 pm)

Auditor General critical of Govt accounts

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