The Report of the Auditor General on the Audit of the Public Accounts of Montserrat for the fiscal year 2019-2020 was presented to the Legislative Assembly on July 27, 2021.
The Auditor General has the responsibility of auditing the Public Accounts of Montserrat and of all public offices and public bodies established by an Act of Parliament and to provide a report on her findings to the Legislative Assembly as per Section 103 of the Montserrat Constitution Order, 2010, and per Section 42(1) of the Public Finance Act, 2008.
Conclusions from the Audit of the 2019-2020 Public Accounts
The Government of Montserrat was issued with a qualified opinion on the 2019-2020 Public Accounts of Montserrat by the Office of the Auditor General. This audit opinion was given as the Acting Auditor General, Ms. Marsha Meade, determined that:
The Statement of Fixed Assets, as presented, is materially misstated.
Some Expenditures were incurred without the authorisation of a warrant provided by the Minister as mandated by Section 24 of the Public Finance Act.
The list of arrears of revenue contains significant amounts that are deemed to be uncollectible.
Additionally, without modifying the opinion, the Acting Auditor General drew attention to the fact that a significant principle of government accounting is that a Government should implement a balanced budget. For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, recurrent expenditure exceeded recurrent revenue by $2.48 million.
“Given the foregoing findings, it is pleasing that we continue to see improvement in the reporting by the Accountant General and by extension the Treasury Department in meeting the requirements of the Public Finance Act,” the release stated.
“However, of growing concern, is the fact that the majority of statutory agencies and state-owned enterprises continue to have audits of their accounts long overdue, some as far back as fiscal year 2014-2015. Additionally, the OAG continue to encounter occasions where responses to queries for adjustments to accounts take an inordinately long time by some entities. The GOM inject large sums of money into the operations of these entities each year. By law, these entities are required to compile their financial statements annually, and to submit them for audit within 3 months after the close of their financial year.
“These years-long gaps in accounting and/or audited reporting greatly increase the likelihood of errors, omissions, fraud, and of malfeasance, all ultimately at the tax-payer’s expense. Urgent attention is needed to correct these serious and prolonged breaches of regulatory and statutory requirements,” Meade said in the release.
In the report, the Acting Auditor General made a series of other recommendations including further improvements in financial management, governance and internal controls to make for a stronger, more efficient and effective public sector.
More information about this report can be obtained by visiting the Office of the Auditor General Online Publications at http://audit.gov.ms or on their Facebook page or viewing a hardcopy at the Montserrat Public Library.