Four of the largest state-owned entities: NICIL, GuySuCo, GPL, and AHI (Marriott Hotel), have failed to: (i) have their audited account laid in Parliament (due by Sept 2019 for calendar year 2018); (ii)file their Annual Return, which includes their audited financials, at the Deed Registry (due by June 2019 for 2018). Both of these statutory requirements are set out in the Companies Act.
APNU/AFC campaigned on transparency and accountability; their record shows the opposite. In fact, one must conclude that their failure to comply with the law is intentional, and is intended to hide the performance of these entities. And this is the tip of the iceberg. This pattern of delinquency – in failing to produce and publish audited financials for state entities and statutory bodies – extends across dozens of entities.
The evidence is partly revealed in the Auditor General’s Report on the 2018 accounts. This AG Report was made public in January 2020 after it was delivered by the AG to the Speaker of the National Assembly in September of 2019.
Page 41 of the AG report states the last year of audited accounts is 2013; financial statements for 2014 to 2016 have been submitted by NICIL, but the audit is not complete. No financial statements for 2017 or 2018 have been tendered to the Auditor General. It now appears that, as of Jan 2020, the last audited financials of the largest company in the country is 2013 (or seven years ago). The PPP ensured that financial statements were submitted for the last complete year of its office, in 2014, to the AG for audit before the 2015 elections.
The audit for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 are all now outstanding. Where is the Board of NICIL or the Minister of Finance?
NICIL consolidated accounts are also missing for many years. These accounts cover all its subsidiaries. There is no mention of this in the AG’s Report.
There is no mention of GuySuCo in the AG’s Report. Searches on the web indicate that the last audited account of GuySuCo is 2016. We know that at end of 2017, Government stripped out of GuySuCo, by Vesting Order, most of its assets and vested these into NICIL. But there are no audited accounts to show how this was done, and what is left in GuySuCo or how it has performed. Where is Chairman Clive Thomas during this period? Or the Board, or the Minister of Agriculture or Finance?
Given the range of liabilities, the 2017 asset stripping without protection of creditors may well be illegal. We can therefore conclude that, for 2017 and 2018, there are no audited financial statements that are available, or that these are hidden from the public purview. There is also no annual report laid in Parliament for this period.
Media reports show that GuySuCo production in 2019 of 90,000 tonnes was the lowest on record for this century or in the history of this company.
Page 507 of the AG Report indicates that 2018 accounts are audited. This is good. What is not good is that these accounts are not in the public domain. In the last few years, GPL has stripped its website of its audited accounts, annual reports, and its filings with the PUC.
Under the Electricity Sector Reform ACT (ESRA) and GPL’s licence, GPL is obligated to file a wide range of information with the PUC every quarter, and to hold public engagements on these matters. As a public utility, this is important. Apart from the compliance with the various statutes, public disclosure of financial information is extremely important. The PUC and GPL both have an obligation to ensure that this happens.
Alas, disclosure and transparency both appear lacking at GPL, particularly in relation to its audited financial statements and annual report. Can GPL say which was the last year that its annual report was tabled in the National Assembly?
AHI (Marriott Hotel):
Page 507 reports the last year of audited accounts of AHI is 2015. Therefore, no audited accounts have been produced for 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019 (not due until second quarter of this year). We are now in 2020. From all reports, the hotel is doing well, although the Entertainment Complex was never completed.
For APNU/AFC, who criticised the PPP over NICIL, AHI, GuySuCo and GPL, the lack of producing and sharing audited accounts is a critical element of transparency, accountability, and disclosure. In fact, this is yet another broken promise from APNU’s manifesto. For all the criticisms, the PPP was considerably more transparent. And what lies beneath this lack of accountability is mismanagement, inefficiency, and inside/secret deals. All of this will be revealed in time.
Finally, there were sections of the press that were attacking the PPP for accountability and disclosure. Why is the press now asleep with these glaring omissions in accountability and compliance with the law?