The Trinidad Guardian / Conflict of interest, inadequate accounting controls and non-adherence to policies and procedures were among the findings of audits of processes by Pan Trinbago, National Carnival Band Leaders’ Association and Trinidad Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation.

Culture Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, in Parliament on Friday, revealed the findings of the audits done over the period October 2013 to September 2016.

“Since the three entities received considerable funding from Government, the audits’ findings are of great concern to the Cabinet, Ministry and citizens,” Gadsby-Dolly added.

She said the execution and management of the Carnival-related activities and hosting of Carnival have been criticised and scrutinised by members of the special interest groups, other cultural stakeholders and the public.

“Among the more serious criticisms are the disbursement and alleged mismanagement of funds to stakeholders of these fraternities,” she added.

To improve transparency and improve internal controls of the three special interest Carnival groups – Tuco, NCBA and Pan Trinbago – the Ministry procured services of an auditing firm to review the income and expenditure, financial reporting and governance processes of the groups over October 2013 to September 2016.

The scope of work by Ernst and Young Services Ltd examined governance and executive oversight, internal control environment, executive recruitment and compensation and analysis of revenue and expenditure.

She detailed the main findings, adding Cabinet has directed that the audit reports of the three groups be sent to the Auditor General.

This is to get specific recommendations for the Ministry which will increase the level of accountability, transparency and value for money invested in Carnival via the three groups. Cabinet has asked the Auditor General for an urgent response, within a month.

“This will facilitate the necessary adjustments in financial arrangements for Carnival 2019 between the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and the special interest groups which sit on its board,” she added.

AUDIT HIGHLIGHTS:

? Groups heavily dependent on Government subventions for annual revenue. ? Their annual budget allocations usually significantly less than their requests to the NCC. ? Key accounts and receipts were not properly checked/accounted for regarding receipt of revenue from major Carnival-related events: ? Policies/procedures were not formally approved and /or consistently adhered to. ? Adequate records for the receipt and payment of suppliers’ invoices not maintained. ? Payments to suppliers were not duly authorised as per accounting policies/procedure. ? Tenders are not documented for the selection of vendors for significant purchases over $100,000 and more, so there was no evidence to suggest tendering processes were done before vendors were selected. ? Conflicts of interest re: executives being awarded contracts for the procurement of goods/services. ? The required statutory payments were not remitted to the relevant financial institutions from July 2015 to present as funds were not available to pay these amounts. ? Bank accounts, receivables accounts and payables are not periodically checked and reconciled in the current year. ? Budgets were not formally approved by the executive. ? Lack of authorisation and accountability for the issuance and receipt of company funds. ? Negative net current assets value over 2013 – 2017. ? Increases in bank overdraft, loans and amounts payable in relation to events held for 2015 and 2016. ? Limited guidelines on recruitment/compensation for members of the executive. ? Inadequate accounting controls and the inability to determine the source of funds for financial transactions.

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