Education Ministry says measures being taken to rectify fiscal challenges identified by Auditor General

by January 12th, 2022

The Education Ministry has sought to assure that measures are being taken to rectify fiscal challenges that were identified by the Auditor General.

These include audits and bank reconciliation issues, dating back to 2012.

Report from the Auditor General was tabled in parliament on Tuesday, highlighting issues at the education ministry that put it at risk of fraud, unauthorized withdrawals, and significant bank errors.

In a response on Wednesday, Education Minister Fayval Williams pointed out that upon her appointment as minister, approval was sought to hire additional external financial auditors, to bring the long outstanding audits of the appropriations accounts up to date.

Meetings were held with the Auditor General and ministry officials to determine the way forward.

Mrs Williams said permission was granted for the ministry to shore up the capacity at its internal audit unit, to allow for fast tracking the backlog of auditing work that needs to be done for the appropriations accounts.

Fourteen new positions were approved for the unit to include audit managers, senior auditors and auditors.

Some of those positions have been filled, while for the unfilled positions, recruitment efforts are underway.

The additional 14 persons will increase the complement of the professionals in the internal audit unit from 25 to 39 persons.

Mrs Williams said the compliance and post audit unit, which only had one person, now has approval for three additional professionals to include two compliance officers and one investigator.

She added that the ministry has engaged the services of financial accounting specialists to work with the staff in the finance division to bring up to date all outstanding appropriations accounts, to provide training for staff in the finance division of the ministry and to complete the backlog of bank reconciliation.

She said beyond bringing accounts up to date, the financial accounting specialists are required to review the internal operations of the final accounts unit of the finance division and provide guidelines to eliminate identified weaknesses.

The minister also noted that she has sought technical assistance to conduct a strategic review of the ministry, with a special focus on the financial processes.

The recommendations will provide the guide for system-wide financial risk reduction through improved processes and implementation of finance and accounting systems.

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