Past Due RMI Audit Expected By End Of Month

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

FY 2014 audit already 5 months overdue

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Nov. 18, 2015) – The Marshall Islands government-wide financial audit for fiscal year 2014 is anticipated to be completed by the end of the month, five months past the June 30 due date.

Finance Secretary Maybelline Bing said she is hopeful it will be wrapped up by Nov. 30. "We’ve received draft reports (from Deloitte) but still have pending work to complete and provide to the auditors," she said.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the Marshall Islands Ministry of Finance has been late completing its annual audit after many years of being among the first in the U.S.-affiliated Pacific islands to complete audits. Delays in completing audits year after year lead to accountability problems identified by auditors not being fixed in a timely way.

While attempting to close the books on the over-due FY 2014 audit, Finance is already moving ahead to prepare its accounting records for the FY 2015 audit, Bing said. This process is being helped by the recent hiring of two certified public accountants who are currently working with the ministry on 2015 accounts.

"Our first and foremost aim for now is to be ready and on time for FY 2015 audit," said Bing. Audits are due nine months after the Sept. 30 close of the fiscal year, or by June 30 the following year. Bing said audit work can get back on its proper timetable "if we have the staff capacity on board. We’re currently working with the Public Service Commission and other ministries to lend staff from the ministries or agencies who have accounting or bookkeeping backgrounds to help with reconciliations."

So far, they’ve only been able to contract one person for a four-month period, and the Graduate School USA is providing an accountant for two weeks to assist with reconciling the government’s Fixed Asset Register.

At the same time, Bing has submitted a funding request to the Interior Department for "Improvement of Financial Management Capacity," which includes funding requests for two CPAs, one internal auditor and a one procurement specialist.

Indications Bing has received from Washington about this pending grant request are positive, she said.

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