The Institute of Chartered Acccountants of Barbados (ICAB) appealed to government to take urgent action on the systemic issues raised in the 2021 Auditor General’s report.
ICAB offered to assist in any way possible and urged the government to put into practice the slogan of the 2004 Barbados National Sustainability Development Policy, “Doing the right things by doing things right”.
“The underlying theme in the Auditor General’s Report – 2021 appears to be a lack of good governance,” ICAB stated in a media release on Friday. “This is of serious concern as a lack of good governance can derail any attempt that Barbados has towards sustainable development.
“If this goes unaddressed, Barbados will continue to need the intervention of external agencies and may never fully be able to reduce unemployment or have its social programmes and policies achieve their intended objectives.”
Of great concern to ICAB was the flouting of the Public Finance Management Act 2019-1, which the regulatory body said clearly stated the criteria for financial reporting including such rules as dates for financials to be presented and standards to be followed.
“Yet, according to the Auditor General, he received accounts late and some agencies did not follow the applicable reporting standards,” ICAB stated. “Notably, the Auditor General stated that ‘these financial statements would therefore be misleading to a user’.
“The Auditor General is to be commended for bringing these matters to the fore, and this work will be of no benefit to the people of Barbados unless swift action is taken by government to implement the recommendations contained in the report.
“While other agencies have publicly commented on the report, there has been a notable silence on the part of government in responding to any of the many issues raised to date.”
ICAB noted one of the hallmarks of good governance was the ability of policy-makers to make informed decisions based on the availability of timely and accurate information.
“This requires adequate and effective internal processes and controls to be in place,” the news release stated. “The implementation of basic controls in a deliberate and consistent manner would be a good first step to create good governance.
“Government has a responsibility to the people of Barbados to be able to demonstrate that it safeguards the assets to which it has been entrusted and that it operates transparently.”
The ICAB media release said: “Best practices dictate the existence of adequate supporting documentation and a clear audit trail surrounding transactions.
“With additional pressures being put on government to provide support to the most vulnerable in the wake of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war, it is vital that government manages its finances in the most prudent manner to always create sustainable development.”
ICAB advised the government to have a detailed collaborative review with all ministries, agencies, and departments to address the issues raised in the report, but praised the recent appointment of Oliver Jordan as a special advisor for the reform and restructuring of state-owned enterprises.
“It is hoped that positive change will result from this including bringing the many long outstanding audits up to date,” Hewitt said.