The fact that a number of government audits were outstanding was harped on by the Opposition as a sign of government lack of accountability. However, Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith announced that the number of outstanding audits is being whittled down with the delivery of long overdue reports to the Auditor General.
During his budget address the Premier said: “Although this is not a reform but certainly a requirement, I am pleased Madam Speaker that annual accounts for the years up to 2015 are now with the Auditor General for auditing. I look forward to laying these on the Table of this Honourable House once they are completed.”
Last month Premier Smith told the media that 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.
Hon. Smith told the media that he had a meeting with the new Auditor General and that the audits that are outstanding were discussed. 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 hurricanes 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 question about the reasons were put to Premier Smith who suggested that hurricane Irma might have caused Mr. Sharman to leave shortly after his arrival.
“I don’t know the conditions under which he left but I know shortly after he came the hurricanes came and many people were affected. Many people left as a result of being affected by the hurricane so I don’t know what his personal circumstances were but I understand that it had to do with the devastation that occurred,” the Premier said.