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Auditor General chides Government over Fiscal Policy Paper

Published:Wednesday | March 4, 2015 | 12:00 AMNews Editor Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre

Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis is chiding the Government for not providing enough information for her office to make a proper assessment of the components of the Fiscal Policy Paper (FPP) in the required time.

The FPP was tabled in parliament on February 19 and contains the Fiscal Responsibility Statement, Macro-Economic Framework and Fiscal Management Strategy.

The law requires the Auditor General to review the documents and provide a report within 10 days after the FFP is tabled.

But in her report, Monroe Ellis says it is not practical for her office to be given such a short timeframe without the requisite support and resources from the finance ministry.

According to her this could have serious implications for the audit outcome and quality.

She says it was agreed that a draft of the FFP would have been given to her office before it was tabled and that resource persons and documents would be made available to her to carry out the assessment.

However, the Auditor general says the requisite approvals were not given in time and this had a significant impact on the depth of the review of the FFP.

She says this also made her office unable to conduct any review of the proposed Public Private Partnership arrangements.

Monroe Ellis says her office was also unable to properly assess variances between the fiscal targets and expected outturns as the finance ministry failed to act upon her recommendation to provide her office with market sensitive information which would not have been included in the FFP.

Meanwhile, the auditor general has recommended that the ministry assess compliance measures to be undertaken by Tax Administration Jamaica and the Jamaica Customs Agency to attain the revenue target.

She says the ministry must factor this into the revenue projections in light of the consistent revenue shortfall.

In addition the auditor general says the ministry must explain why intensified compliance measures have failed in the past to result in expected revenue increases and the steps being taken to overcome the challenge.