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Government Calls For Measured Response To Principal Auditor’s Report

Below follows a statement from the Government on the Principal Auditor’s Report:

The Government regrets the continued manipulation by the GSD Opposition of the Principal Auditor’s Report to politicise and undermine the work of the Government and of the Public Service. The Auditor’s work is undermined by the attempt from the Opposition to exploit his work for Party political purposes. 

Additionally, it is important to note that the Principal Auditor highlights the following in his Auditor’s Opinion for both 2017 and 2018: 

  • Auditor’s Opinion onRegularity - Except for the relevant comments contained in his report, in the Auditor’s opinion, in all material respects, monies which have been appropriated and disbursed have been applied to the purposes for which they were appropriated and the expenditure recorded in the public accounts conform to the authorities that govern them. 
  • Auditor’s Opinion on the Public Accounts - Except for the relevant comments contained in his report, in the Auditor’s opinion, the public accounts on pages 394 to 609 (658 to 877 for 2018) properly present the revenue collected and expenditure paid during the financial year ended 31 March 2017 and the assets and liabilities as at the end of that period. 
  • Auditor’s Opinion on Other Matters - In his opinion, the information given in the Accountant General’s Report, the Statement of the Financial Position of the Government of Gibraltar and the related notes are consistent with the audited public accounts. 

The vast majority of the pages of the 915 that encompass the Principal Auditor’s report highlight the correctness of the public accounts and the due diligence of public servants in ensuring both value-for-money and transparency. 

Moreover, as highlighted by the Principal Auditor in his acknowledgments: ´I am also very grateful to the Financial Secretary, the Chief Secretary, the Accountant General, all Heads of Departments, Controlling Officers and Receivers of Revenue, and their respective members of staff, for the co operation, assistance and courtesy extended to staff of the GibraltarAudit Office during the course of the performance of the audit function.’ 

As the premise of a Public Accounts Report is to critically assess the decisions of a Government at a particular time, there are of course, suggestions that can be taken on board, assessed and implemented in certain areas where the system can be improved for the benefit of all. Indeed, in many cases,the value-for-money audits that are being quoted to the detriment of Departments and Public Servants were in fact requested by the departments themselves.

The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo KC, said: ‘The Opposition are using the most recent PublicAccountsReportto politicise and undermine the work of our Public Service and the Principal Auditor himself by trying to turn hiswork into a Party political tool. ThisGovernmentwelcomes and supports the work of the Principal Auditor and his team, and will take on board its recommendations where we have not already acted or where we have a policy difference in areas of the Government’s and nottheAuditor’s competence. What we will not do is entertain the opinion of those who fail to understand the value of hindsight when looking at these numbers, and fail to understand the sometimes tough decisions made by Head of Departments to deliver the mandates which the People of Gibraltar have voted for time and time again.’