Appeal for details of quango finances
Independent senator James Jardine drew attention to the lack of financial information on quangos and other government operations during yesterday’s Senate sitting.
He spoke as the financial statements of the Consolidated Fund of the Government of Bermuda for the financial year ending March 2015 were presented to the Upper House.
Quoting from that document, Mr Jardine said: “Significant financial activities for the Government occur outside of the consolidated fund. As such they do not represent the full nature and extent of the overall financial affairs and resources of the Government of Bermuda.”
He said he had raised the point about six times in the past and while he acknowledged that the One Bermuda Alliance was looking into the matter, he urged expediency.
“It is extremely important to have combined financial statements,” he said. “I would hazard a guess that there are at least 40 or 50 other sub-financial statements for quangos and other government operations.
“They are not shown in these financial statements. If you consider the BMA [Bermuda Monetary Authority], for example, Wedco, BLDC [the Bermuda Land Development Corporation] — all of these quangos hold immense assets and also liabilities contingent and otherwise that are not necessarily disclosed, although mention is made of them.”
He urged the Government to move forward as quickly as possible to put together combined statements, adding that more quangos were being created, such as the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Gaming Commission.
“Every time new quangos are established, people are hired, money is spent, money is raised and debts are incurred,” Mr Jardine added. “We have no overall picture of what is going on.”
One Bermuda Alliance senator Georgia Marshall commended the Auditor-General’s office for its third financially unqualified report in a row, meaning the financial statements were free from material misstatements.
“In the past I have quoted from and alluded to past auditors’ reports and you will recall that in 2007 the auditor gave a qualified report,” she said. “Not only did the Auditor-General give a qualified report but he indicated that more than half of the departments had failed to provide sufficient information and financials so as to allow the auditor to prepare the report.
“In 2006 and 2005, a third of those had been insufficient to provide a clean report. This was an abysmal state of affairs but I am pleased to see that under the hand of the Minister of Finance, Bob Richards, that this has been turned around.”