Bharath: More revenue if amended figures true

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Former UNC MP Vasant Bharath speaks to Newsday’s reporter at the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) march in Port of Spain, November 3, 2023. – Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

FORMER minister in the ministry of finance Vasant Bharath says if last year’s public financial statements were in fact understated by $2.6 billion, this is additional revenue that the Government could put to good use.

He made this comment on May 1 with respect to the ongoing controversy between Government and the Auditor General over the submission of the latter’s report to Parliament on the 2023 public financial statements.

On April 30, former minister in the ministry of finance Mariano Browne said the presentation of the mid-year review of the budget later this month and the Government’s ability to meet obligations such as the payment of public servants’ salaries would not be affected by this siuation.

Bharath agreed with him.

“If the report is not accepted by the Auditor General then the accounts remain the same as she signed off. This does not however affect payment of wages etc since this is a cash flow issue and if in fact the Minister of Finance is correct regarding the increased revenues of $2.6 billion then the additional funds will be available.”

He said, “What will happen, theoretically speaking if the matter is not resolved, is it will be brought in as a prior year adjustment in next year’s accounts, provided the Auditor General is happy with the substantiating documents”

Bharath referred to the passage of a motion in the House of Representatives on April 26, to give the Finance Ministry more time to present public financial statements to the Auditor General and more time for the Auditor General to prepare a report on these statements for submission to Parliament.

“I assume that the reason for the extension approved in Parliament on Friday (April 26) is to prevent such a situation and for the Minister of Finance to adequately satisfy the Auditor General that the additional revenue is real by providing the required documents.”

The motion was passed by a vote of 19 to 14.

On April 29, the Senate passed the same motion by a 23 to 6 vote.