Recently appointed Auditor General Sonia Webster is eager to complete the outstanding government audits, and has met and had discussions with Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith.
During a recent press conference Premier Smith told the media that he “met with the new Auditor General since she has been appointed and her determination is to get these audits done as quickly as possible.”
Hon. Smith further mentioned that his Ministry is not relaxed when it comes to auditing: “I also said before in the Ministry of Finance, in the Treasury Department we have been preparing the Accountant General reports and those are prepared up to 2015 and 2016 now. So it is a matter of dealing with the Auditor General office now to complete them.”
As it relates to the prolonged delay of the audit completion Hon. Smith explained that this is partially due to the manner in which audits are done. “The way the Auditor General works –you got to complete 2012 first and then 2013 etc right, because that’s the function of the Auditor General to make sure that all the numbers are correct. If there is one number out then it needs correcting and it goes from year to year.”
Hon. Smith was also asked by the media if government lost any data that was relevant to the audit during the hurricane and he explained that as far as he knows this was not so.
The Premier further defended the recently appointed Auditor General noting that audits were completed during her previous tenure. He also said that he did not know that an official statement was never published after Mr. Sharman gave up the position.
During a press conference last week the departure of Phil Sharman – the former Auditor General – was raised by reporters, and questions about the reasons were put to Premier Smith who suggested that hurricane Irma might have caused Mr. Sharman to leave shortly after his arrival.
The announcement that Mr. Sharman might not return was made by Leader of the Opposition and First District Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie during the House of Assembly on 13 December: “I understand that the Auditor General won’t be back. I don’t know what frighten him. Probably when he saw what he had to do he was gone… He won’t be back here. He gone.”
When Premier Smith was asked during last week’s press conference why an official announcement was not made by Government he noted that he did not know that a statement was ever formally issued. The Premier also mentioned that such an announcement would have been made by the Deputy Governor’s Office.
Undoubtedly such a situation generates well-justified criticism and pundits suggests that the Governor should have acted on it.