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St. Maarten Audit Chamber audits government's tax compliance policy

TUESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2014

PHILIPSBURG–The Gen- eral Audit Chamber is busy with an integrity baseline study, financial statements of government for 2012, financial statements of the General Pension Fund APS 2011 and a “value for money” performance audit of government’s tax compliance policy. These four audits were started in 2013 and six others are expected to come on stream this year, Audit Chamber Secretary-General Joane Dovale-Meit told Members of Parliament (MPs) on Monday afternoon.

General Audit Chamber Chairman Ronald Halman, chamber member Alphons Gumbs, substitute member Danny Hassell and Dovale-Meit were in Parliament to give an overview of the chamber’s achievements and ongoing projects.

Dovale-Meit informed Parliament that government is some five months behind in submitting its financial statements for 2012. However, due to the good relationship between the audit chamber and the Finance Ministry, the chamber has started its work on the statements based on information from “draft documents.” The audit chamber hopes to receive the financial statements “soon” from government.

She pointed out that there is not yet “a habit” of government to present financial statements on time to the audit chamber. Financial statements, by law, should be submitted to the audit chamber by September of the year following the one the statement concerns.

The audited statements of government are very necessary to assist Parliament in making “well informed decisions,” she said.

Dovale-Meit said Parliament “needs to use” the audit chamber reports to call on the Council of Ministers to give account based on the findings and recommendations.

The audit chamber expects to complete its work on the APS statement by April while performance audit of the tax compliance policy should be ready in March.

Planned for this year are the audits of the government’s 2013 financial statement and those of APS for 2012 and 2013, audit of the confidentiality expenditure of the National Security Service VDSM, a performance (value for money) audit of government’s rental policy, and the second audit of government personnel expenditure.

Dovale-Meit said the audit chamber’s plans for this year are “quite ambitious,” but all audits are “needed for accountability.” The audit chamber wants “more dialogue” this year with Parliament via the Country Expenditure Committee.

National Alliance (NA) MPs Louie Laveist and George Pantophlet asked the chamber representatives if government-owned companies are audited. Dovale-Meit said those companies are part of government so their financial statements are included in that of government.

Independent (former NA) MP Frans Richardson commended the audit chamber on its integrity audit. He criticized the use of “big firms from outside” to carry out the ongoing integrity investigation into government’s operations. Richardson asked if the chamber has audited the Inspectorate of Taxes. Dovale-Meit pointed him to the ongoing audit of government’s tax compliance policy.

Independent (former United People’s party) MP Romain Laville was concerned about career opportunities at the audit chamber. Dovale-Meit said the audit chamber looks for people with practical knowledge and skills. Audit Chamber employees are also mentored by others in the field with more experience.

UP Parliamentarians Jules James, Johan Leonard and Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce, including other MPs, commended the audit chamber on its work.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

 

Parliament ratifies subsitute members for Audit Chamber

TUESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2014

PHILIPSBURG–Nominees for the position of substitute member for the General Audit Chamber were approved by Parliament in a plenary session on Monday afternoon. Financial expert Sheryl Peterson and Alphaeus Tatum were voted on by secret ballot as prescribed by the regulations of the audit chamber.

Governor Eugene Holiday will be notified of parliament’s decision and the need for the new substitute member to be sworn-in. Peterson is expected to become the substitute member of the audit chamber. She received unanimous support from the 12 MPs present for the meeting. She will replace audit chamber substitute member Hyden Gittens who has requested to resign from his post.

MPs cast 11 ballots in favour of Tatum. One ballot was blank.

The nominees were recommended to Parliament by the board of the General Audit Chamber in conformity with the law regulating the audit chamber.

President of Parliament MP Gracita Arrindell congratulated the two nominees and wished them well in carrying out their task.

Democratic Party (DP) Member of Parliament Roy Marlin requested prior to the voting that in the future candidates submit a document outlining that they do not hold any position in conflict with the audit chamber rules.

National Alliance (NA) MP Louie Laveist asked that in the future the credentials of nominees for any position parliament has to vote on be made known as well as information about the position the nominee will fill and the vetting process used to arrive at the nominee. He wanted this to remove any semblance of “favouritism” from the minds of the public.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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