Apr 09, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – A recent Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report titled Economic Institutions for a Resilient Caribbean has revealed that Guyana is among some Caribbean countries that fail to show systematic and timely follow-ups on auditor general findings. The other countries flagged were the Bahamas, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Guyana’s Audit Office scrutinises the expenditure of public funds on behalf of Parliament, by conducting financial audits of all publicly funded entities such as government ministries, donor-funded entities, local government agencies and trade unions. The audits are done following international standards set by the International Federation of Accountants and the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institution.
The report highlighted a fundamental point, stating that the effectiveness of parliamentary budget oversight is constrained by the limited time allocated to that function, which is also an issue in Guyana and the reviews are based on estimates that are not finalised and are undertaken when changes are no longer possible.
“More generally, given the insufficient time available for legislatures to scrutinise budget proposals, the Caribbean countries may want to consider the establishment of parliamentary advisory budget offices, staffed with professionals who are independent from government, akin to the Congressional Budget Office in the United States and the Parliamentary Budget Office in Canada,” it advised.
Also presenting another alternative, it outlined that Caribbean countries can foster a regional unit that would provide such professional services to the individual countries’ Parliaments.
Since its establishment in 2004, which was provided for in the Audit Act of 2004, the Audit Office has sought to promote good governance, transparency and improved public accountability. Each year, the Auditor General in the reports has made several recommendations to Ministries, Departments and Regions with the intent of improving the systems and practices at these entities and according to the IDB’s report, the implementation of these recommendations by governments leaves much to be desired.
In 2018, Kaieteur News had reported that the APNU+AFC government which exited office in August 2020, failed to implement 174 of the AG’s recommendations of the previous year. Our report noted that in 2016, 602 recommendations were made in the AG’s report. However, following up on the report, officials of the AG’s office found that only 30 percent of the recommendations were partially implemented. Furthermore, in the 2017 report, the AG, Deodat Sharma noted that each recommendation was reviewed to determine what action, if any, was taken by the respective accounting officers and at the time of finalising the 2017 report, 178 or 30 percent of the recommendations were partially implemented, while 174 or 28 percent of the recommendations were not implemented.
Sharma had expressed concerns over the lack of action, as 58% of his recommendations were not yet fully implemented. Additionally, despite many recommendations being repeated each year, there was not appropriate action, which he said led to weaknesses and issues that impacted negatively on governance and accountability mechanisms, continuously.
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