Auditor General seeking answers on Barbados investment in LIAT

Auditor General seeking answers on Barbados investment in LIAT

Friday, May 27, 2016

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – The Barbados government has invested more than BDS$142 million (US$71 million) in LIAT – the Antigua-based regional airline – as of March 31 last year, but the Auditor General says the government is tight-lipped about disclosing details concerning the investment.


Barbados is one of four shareholder governments of the cash-strapped airline. The others are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.


Auditor General Leigh E Trotman in his 2015 Report, which was laid in Parliament on March 31, acknowledged that the government has a joint venture with Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT).


But he said there was "no disclosure" of some of the financial arrangements, as required by International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS 8).


"Any contingent liabilities/assets that the Government has incurred in relation to its interests in joint ventures, and its share in each of the contingent liabilities that have been incurred jointly with other ventures" as well as "its share of the contingent liabilities/assets of the joint ventures themselves for which it is contingently liable".


He said there was also no disclosure as to "the method used to recognise its interests in jointly controlled entities.


"Government’s total investment in this joint venture, according to the Treasury’s records, was BDS$142,733,148 at March 31, 2015. Full disclosure as required by the accounting standards should be provided," he wrote in his report.


In the report, Trotman also noted that a request for third party information was submitted to the University of the West Indies (UWI) for confirmation of the total debt owed by the Government to the entity.


"It was indicated that a total of BDS$195,641,489 was recorded as owing as at March 31, 2015. However, this liability was not reported within the Financial Statements.


"This amount represents future fees and other economic costs incurred on behalf of the citizens of Barbados who attend the university. The amount due to the university is quite substantial, and I have been reporting on this omission for some time," Trotman wrote.


"It is absolutely essential that the Treasury obtains the relevant information from the responsible Ministry in order to record the liability," he said.


But in a response, the Accountant General noted that "there was no information submitted to the Treasury Department in relation to the BDS$195,641,489.05 liability to University of the West Indies for it to be reported in the financial statements".


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