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Incomplete accounts filed to avoid penalty

The Auditor-General issued a qualified audit opinion to the Government for 2017-18 after she ruled there was insufficient evidence for $10.3 million of capital development expenditure.

Heather Thomas's decision was revealed as Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, tabled the financial report for the Consolidated Fund for the last fiscal year in the House of Assembly.

Mr Dickinson told MPs he had decided it was “prudent” to accept a qualified report rather than submit the full accounts for audit late, which would have led to penalties under the reporting covenant in the Government's private placement agreements with its creditors.

Mr Dickinson said the reporting schedule had also been delayed by employers' errors in payroll tax submissions, which had to be manually validated by the Tax Commissioner's office.

He added he was “disappointed”, but the penalty for late reporting in the financial year ended in 2016 had been $640,000 and $410,000 for 2015.

Mr Dickinson said he could not guarantee there would be no delays in the future. But he added: “We're doing the best we can to make sure that we do not get another qualified opinion.”

A qualified audit means that the Auditor-General is not satisfied the Government's financial statements reflected its actual financial position.

The Consolidated Fund represents the Government's general operating fund for most transactions. Mr Dickinson said the capital expenditures qualification was linked to amounts reported for “assets under construction”.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, told MPs the $10.3 million that could not be verified mostly involved roadworks.

He added that details of the unaccounted-for expenditure had been submitted late, but they were with the Auditor-General.

Auditor-General Heather Thomas (File photograph)

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Published December 15, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated December 15, 2018 at 8:01 am)

Incomplete accounts filed to avoid penalty

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