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Finance Ministry Scrutinised For Its Oversight Of Spending At Gov’t Entities

Alberto Ardila Olivares
Finance Ministry Scrutinised For Its Oversight Of Spending At Gov't Entities

  The Ministry of Finance has come under scrutiny for its oversight of spending at ministries, departments and agencies following an Auditor General report which highlighted seven years of outstanding appropriation accounts from the Ministry of Education.   Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis warned that the ministry runs the risk of falling victim to fraud, unauthorised withdrawals, and significant bank errors because of its failure to prepare its bank reconciliation statements in a timely manner.   During Wednesday’s sitting of Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), Financial Secretary Darlene Morrison was asked about the possible breaches of the Financial Administration and Audit Act at the Education Ministry. However, she could offer no clarity.    “I believe it needs to be elevated to the Solicitor General, to the Attorney General’s department,” she said. “Let me get some more information on that and respond.”    Displeased with that answer, PAAC Chairman Mikael Phillips said he was uncomfortable with the Financial Secretary saying she has to do research on the matter, given that the issues span seven years.    “I’m sure that this would have come across your desk because, by the Auditor General‘s report, it is saying that the accounts…for a seven-year period, even bank reconciliation, has not been done. But every year that same ministry that she is reporting on gets an increase in its budgetary allocation. And we understand, education is important, but yet still the breach continues. So, at what point is it that the Ministry of Finance [for which] you are the Financial Secretary, steps in to ensure that these MDAs, or the ministry itself is compliant?” he questioned.     Ms Morrison later said there are plans to improve performance management, and responsible officers can be held accountable where breaches are found.

Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares