Acting Auditor General Marsha Meade said there is a concern about the year-on-year increase of outstanding debts to the Government of Montserrat.
The latest Report of the Auditor General on the Public Accounts of Montserrat 2021-2022 was presented to the Legislative Assembly on September 29, 2023.
Miss Meade said in a press release about the latest audit report that “The Government of Montserrat was issued with a qualified opinion on the 2021-2022 Public Accounts of Montserrat by the Office of the Auditor General.” A qualified opinion is an auditor’s opinion that the financials are fairly presented, except for a specified area.
This audit opinion was given as the acting Auditor General, Miss Marsha Meade determined that “two financial statements had material misstatements and that expenses were incurred without the authorisation of a warrant provided by the Minister as mandated by Section 24 of the Public Finance Act.”
According to the release “the GOM collected a total of $136,775,116 of recurrent revenue, the total recurrent expenditure was $135,785,397 resulting in a surplus of $989,719. Authorised capital expenditure was $70,436,500 and actual capital expenditure amounted to $14,890,078. Various agencies such as FCDO and the EU provided contributions in the amount of $22,317,647 to facilitate implementation of capital projects.
The Auditor General expressed concern with the “increasing arrears of revenue being reported in the Public Accounts. When compared to the year 2019-2020, the arrears increased by $1,670,243 in 2020-21 and a further increase by $3,781,932 in 2021-22.” In her report, the acting Auditor General recommended that the required process and supporting infrastructure and staffing of compliance, of enforcement and of debt collection be implemented to assist Ministries and Departments with the timely and better collection of outstanding amounts.”
She added that given the foregoing findings, it is pleasing that her office continued “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 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.
She stated that none of the audit work could have been achieved without the indelible assistance of the Auditors who are responsible for conducting many aspects of the audit assignments. She thanked them for their contribution despite the many challenges encountered during the reporting year.
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 the Legislature and to provide a report on her findings to the Legislative Assembly as per Section 103 of the Montserrat Constitution Order 2010 and Section 42(1) of the Public Finance (Management and Accountability) Act 2008.
Read the full report here
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.