Issues highlighted in Auditor General’s report being fixed

Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughan said government was concerned about the financial reporting issues highlighted in the Auditor General’s report.

Straughan said efforts had started to fix the issues, but he said financial managers in government offices had an important role to play in monitoring and reporting in a timely manner.

The minister made his remarks when he addressed the Public Sector Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) on Friday.

“The reporting cycles rest within the mandate of the Treasury, as well as the financial controllers within the various ministries,” he said to his virtual audience.

“We have sought to enhance that reporting cycle to be much more aggressive with respect to identification of issues and to be able to follow up as required to ensure that the Treasury is in a position – just like state-owned enterprises (SOEs) – to report on a monthly basis as to the nature and state of what is taking place within central government itself.

“That has not yet been completed, but it is my anticipation that by the end of the year, we should be in a position to have that reporting cycle resumed.”

ICAB, the regulator and standard setter for accounting and auditing in Barbados, said the underlying theme in this year Auditor General’s report appeared to be a lack of good governance, which could derail any attempt the island had towards sustainable development.

The professional membership organisation, which represents over 1 000 chartered accountants in Barbados, said if the issues in the report remained unaddressed, the island will continue to need the intervention of external agencies and may never fully be able to reduce unemployment or have its social programs and policies achieve their intended objectives.

Straughan also informed the conference that government will soon be rolling out changes to how it manages its procurement process.

The minister said the Public Procurement Act passed in Parliament, and the new measures will be going into effect later in the year to provide greater transparency in managing the procurement process in government and SOEs.

He said there was nothing “inherently bad” about the current process, but the changes were necessary to ensure that all available opportunities were made known.

“What this is intended to do is to ensure that all available opportunities are published online, and in the same way that they are published in the newspapers today, which quite frankly, most people don’t read newspapers these days, but they are published in newspapers, and on the Government Information Service website,” he said.

He added: “We want to ensure that registered suppliers and all persons who are interested in supplying goods and services to the government will register on the portal, and will receive at their choosing whatever opportunities are available within government.”

Straughan said this will ensure that the procurement process was better streamlined, much more efficient for agencies to execute, and therefore, affording an opportunity for government to not just lower the cost of procurement, but also the management process in relation to our public procurement.

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