HEART controls in need of strengthening
Internal Audits of the operations of the HEART Trust/NTA determined that the agency's control environment requires strengthening through improved accountability, robust monitoring and compliance by management, as well as the introduction of updated best practices.
The audit committee, chaired by Barrington Whyte, focused on issues of governance, programme and output, finance and resource management, and internal controls.
Writing in the entity's 2013-2014 annual report, which was laid in Parliament last week, Whyte said his committee has received the assurance and commitment of the executive director and the management team that priority was given to improving the internal control framework and strengthening governance and business processes on an ongoing basis.
The report did not speak to the specific areas of weaknesses that have been identified.
Risk management culture
The committee is independent of management and comprises three non-executive board directors and five other qualified external professionals.
Meanwhile, Dr Wayne Wesley, HEART's executive director, said a critical aspect of the organisational transformation programme is the development and infusion of an enterprise risk management culture and framework.
"The organisation has established a risk management and compliance department and has embarked on a comprehensive assessment of both its internal and external environment to develop the appropriate control and monitoring systems to effectively mitigate risks," Wesley said in the report.
He also said that an integrated enterprise risk management framework, incorporating the corporate strategic planning process, is being implemented within the organisation.
HEART's financials show that its receivables, which represents money owed to the entity, has climbed to $150.9 million up from $145.9 million last year.
At the same time, payables, which represents the entity's obligation to pay off a short-term debt to its creditors, dipped from $1.4 billion to $1.2 billion, with the Inland Revenue Department owed $80.8 million, up from $69.3 million last year.
The accounts further show that accruals have moved down slightly to $967.5 million from $1.1 billion.
The NHT net surplus stood at $222.3 million at the end of the period, down from $222.5 million last year, while liabilities climbed slightly from $6.6 million to $6.8 million.
Meanwhile, the organisation said it was encouraged by the businesses that provided support through the remittance of the HEART three per cent contributions. A total of 14,294 employers made contributions of $7.55 billion to the HEART Trust Fund for the period April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
"This represented an increase of $548.24 million over the previous year's contributions of $ 7.01 billion and $534.48 million above the budgeted amount of $7.02 billion. There were 1,906 employers making payment for the first time and 1,252 audited firms making arrears contribution payments totaling $224.46 million," Wesley said in the report.