Two private sector leaders have weighed in on the latest Auditor General report, with one describing the findings as “extremely troubling”, and another saying the reported inefficiencies in Government are nothing short of “embarrassing”.
In his report, Leigh Trotman pointed to millions in outstanding arrears, unauthorized transactions and misplaced funds, which together with a number of flawed contracts between Government and private entities paint a pathetic picture of this country’s public sector administration.
There was also the startling revelation that the accounts of 50 state agencies were not included in Government’s financial statements, as well as other evidence of blatant under-reporting by a number of state entities, in addition to consistent non-payment of taxes and loans by both public and private entities.
President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddie Abed told Barbados TODAY the report also showed just how “sloppy” some state agencies operate.
“I just cannot believe that with the checks and balances, with the high professional standards that we have in a country that boasts that we are the cleanest international business centre around, that it can be so sloppy; that it can be so tardy; that we still have huge financing issues that don’t seem to have clarity. It is to me, extremely troubling,” the outspoken businessman said.
“I hope that both sides can come together, I hope that the Government of the day will take heart in what the Auditor General had to say and absolutely bring clarity to these [issues] because we can’t have issues as large as these.”
The businessman also warned that “with ambiguity comes questions of impropriety”.
“No one is suggesting that this has been the case, but had it been that the i’s [were] dotted and t’s crossed that would never come into the equation,” said Abed.
In a separate interview, Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Alex McDonald told Barbados TODAY the report was now an annual review of “a confirmation of things we know can be done better”.
“It has now become something that while we are embarrassed at it, it seems as if we are not paying any attention to fix some of those issues on a line-by-line basis,” said McDonald.
“So we still see the same types of infringements, same types of infractions, maybe by different agencies and maybe at times from the same agencies, and we don’t see a concerted effort to address the issues publicly and to attack the root causes of the inefficiencies,” he added.
McDonald said however, he did not believe the flaws were deliberate, but had mostly to do with inefficient systems.
“I think many times it is not malice it is inefficient systems put in place, legacy systems put in place that need to be changed and improved because at times we underestimate the amount of work that is necessary to reform technology and process within Government,” he added.