Burch tells House of his frustration with the Auditor General – The Royal Gazette

Created: Oct 01, 2022 4:23 PM

Lt. Col. David Burch, Minister of Public Works (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A minister has chastised the auditor general for delays in updating government agencies on their financial situation.

In a rare public affront, Lt. Col. David Burch, Minister of Works, expressed concern in the House of Assembly yesterday about waiting times for state agency audits.

The harsh words came as MPs debated whether Bermuda College could be audited by an outside body.

Colonel Burch said: “I will put the House and the people of Bermuda on notice that I mentioned to the Minister of Education that he would be the first to go down this road and we will probably follow.”

Referring to public bodies, he said: “There is a legislative obligation for these entities to report to this House.

“There is an obstacle for them to meet this requirement imposed on them by the office of the auditor general.

“And, I think it’s even worse than that because on the rare occasion that the Auditor General agrees to use an outside agency, it’s with the caveat that he then has to audit the audit.”

“This is a significant source of frustration because employees and people involved in these entities go the extra mile to obtain and audit and are hampered in this process in terms of meeting deadlines.

“And then publicly criticized because you had all these entities that weren’t audited by the Auditor General.”

In an apparent reference to the Auditor General, he said: ‘I would suggest … and the indication the Minister for Education gave, as to his response, was not helpful at all. – ‘no, you can’t do that’, hiring an independent firm to do the audit – that’s not being cooperative, that’s not progressive.

“I’ll go that far and say it’s symptomatic of several recent auditors general who have taken on this responsibility as if they were the only ones on the planet who could.

Diallo Rabain, Minister of Education (File photo by Akil Simmons)

“I think there should be a broader look at this whole process of audits for government entities.

“Because it is in the public interest for you to do the audits, and we as a government would support anything that will accelerate and get us to the point where the Auditor General will be happy, or should be, if all entities are audited, and reports are in order, and any irregularities are brought to light.

“It shouldn’t be a turf war, because that’s what it looks like to me.”

Col. Burch pointed out that the backlog of audits for companies like the Bermuda Housing Corporation and the West End Development Corporation has frustrated those organizations.

Education Minister Diallo Rabain told MPs the government “hoped” the Auditor General would choose not to redo the work at Bermuda College.

Bermuda Alliance MP Susan Jackson says Bermudian taxpayers donate “tremendous amounts of money” to Bermuda College every year, to the tune of around $16 million, and the public has a right to know what was going on in his books.

Ms Jackson pointed out that Bermuda’s Auditor General is legally required to examine the accounts of institutions that receive money from the public purse.

Mr. Rabain supported the decision of Bermuda College’s board of trustees to appoint an auditor, which he said was essential for the island’s only institute of higher learning to maintain its accreditation status with the New England Higher Education Commission.

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