Public Entities Lauded
At a very special meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the Legislative Assembly Wednesday, 24 January 2018, history was made when 30 public service entities received praise for a job well done.
Chairman and Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Ezzard Miller led MLAs in lauding 30 out of 36 public entities comprising core government, statutory authorities and government companies for attaining unqualified financial audits for the 2016 financial year ending 30 June 2016. He singled out the Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service, Hon. Franz Manderson for taking heat at a 2012 PAC meeting and then setting the right example for the rest of the civil service to follow.
Mr. Miller and fellow members of the PAC, Deputy Speaker, Mr. Bernie Bush, Councillors Mr. Austin Harris and Ms Barbara Conolly, as well as MLA, Mr. Chris Saunders, handed out plaques as tokens of appreciation and recognition "for the civil service's hard work, commitment and success.
It was the first time Government had achieved such a large number of unqualified financial audits since the passage of the Public Management and Finance Law, the PAC Chairman noted. The other members also congratulated entities on their accomplishments.
The Chairman added that the agencies deserved praise for taking to heart many of the recommendations from the PAC and the Auditor General's Office and implementing them in the following years.
Despite six entities still working to meet the standard, the success rate squarely placed the Cayman Islands in an enviable position in the Caribbean, outpacing a majority of countries, Mr Miller emphasised.
He recalled that in 2009, there was not a single public entity in the Cayman Islands that had produced accounts receiving unqualified audits. Since then, the relationship between government entities, the OAG and the PAC had completely changed from adversarial to a better understanding of the demands on public entities to comply with the law, he stated.
He added it was time for Government to consider introducing performance based bonuses for superior financial audit compliance. The six not receiving unqualified audits would soon be before the PAC in an effort to get them to strive towards the goal.
The Deputy Governor thanked Mr. Miller for his uncompromising leadership, for PAC setting a high standard that did not brook second class civil service performance, and for reiterating that excellence is the key component of the Cayman Islands Government model. He lauded the "exceptional job" by so many public entities to reduce criticism against civil service.
He added the present accomplishment was a step towards the vision envisaged in Government's Five Year Strategic Plan for public entities to transition into a world class civil service and emphasised that the civil service would continue with the PAC.
Acting Auditor General, Mr. Garnet Harrison, outlined that in the last five audit years, the number of unqualified opinions has increased from 49% to 83%, with six audits still outstanding for 30 June 2016. Within core government in 2012, only six out of 15 Ministries, Portfolios and Offices had unqualified audits, whereas in the year ending 30 June 2016, 11 out of 15 entities had unqualified audits to date.
"With the quality of the financial statements getting better, this enhances the financial accountability for those entities. In the past we noted this financial accountability was lacking for a large portion of the past 13 years since the implementation of the PMFL. There is still a ways to go, but good progress is being made," Mr. Harrison commented.
Additionally, the 30 entities have exhibited a commitment to continually improving the quality and content of the financial information, making it more useful for the decision-makers and the wider public, Mr. Harrison said. For the year ending 30 June 2016 a good portion of the entities also provided Annual Reports for the first time with their submission of the financial statements, he said.
"This was an important step for government to make in providing greater accountability of information to the Legislative Assembly and public. The annual reports help explain what activities these entities undertook and contextualise and explain the financial results by telling the reader what they achieved for the money they have spent. However, further work needs to be done on the annual reports to provide better performance information on what outcomes they have achieved," Mr. Harrison added.
For further information contact: Bina Mani