Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Senator George Vincent has called on government and state-owned entities to provide timely audited financial statements in keeping with the annual requirements of the Public Finance Management Act.
Speaking to reporters in St. George’s on Monday at a press conference called by the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr. Vincent described as “a very terrible situation” the submission of audited accounts to the committee by public bodies and statutory corporations.
He said there was “a lack of transparency and accountability to the taxpayers of this country” by these state-owned corporations in terms of how they spend taxpayer’s money”.
Sen. Vincent, who is the NDC Caretaker for St. John, revealed that only three out of the 24 statutory corporations – the Grenada Authority for the Regulation of Financial Institutions (GARFIN), Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority (GSWMA) and the Grenada Development Bank (GDB) have been presenting their reports in a timely manner.
He pointed out that based on the “Public Finance Management Act, No. 17 of 2015 Section 66 (1) the government must present its accounts to the auditors six months after the end of the financial year”.
“Section 66 (2) indicates that if you are late you must ask for permission and an extension of three months may be given.
“Section 67 (5) says, “The minister shall submit to the Parliament no later than seven days after receiving the accounts.
“Section 74 says that within three months (after the financial year) statutory bodies must provide and present their accounts to the auditors (who) must within three months audit the statements (after which) the Minister must lay them before parliament.
Sen. Vincent, who has been chairing PAC for the last three years, told reporters that the committee has only been able to “examine the books of the public accounts up to 2011”.
“I must commend the three statutory corporations who have obeyed the law and have presented their reports in a timely manner and to date have presented the reports of the year 2015. Up to today, we are awaiting the accounts for the years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 – this is not acceptable”, he said.
“The other 21 (statutory bodies) have blatantly disregarded the laws of Grenada and have not submitted reports- some have done for 2012, 2013, but three of the major statutory corporations are in blatant defiance of the laws of Grenada – the National Lotteries Authority (NLA), has not presented reports since 2009, the Grenada Tourism Authority, formally the Grenada Board of Tourism has not presented reports since 2008, (while) the Grenada Airports Authority (GAA) has not presented accounts since 2012,” he added.
Dr. Vincent urged the Mitchell-led government to lead by example and account to the people by presenting the audited statements of accounts to Parliament.
“We call on all statutory corporations to obey the laws of Grenada…and present your audited accounts to the parliament so that it may then be examined closely by the authority, the public and the Public Accounts Committee,” he remarked.