Walter Blackman – Findings from the 2021 Auditor General’s Report, and Educational Reform

The following submission from Walter Blackman, Actuary and VOB TalK Show Host is a summary of his June 14 ,2022 Brasstacks program – BU blogmaster

Walter Blackman – Actuary and VOB Brasstacks host

There are many national issues simmering on the front burner which are worthy of discussion. Just to identify some of these, we have gun violence, the strategy announced by the Attorney General to combat crime, a test carried out on a male to determine the presence or absence of Monkey pox in Barbados, the need to be on the lookout for counterfeit currency, some disturbing findings from the latest Auditor General’s report for the Fiscal Year ended March 31, 2021, and last, but not least, educational reform.

With respect to the Auditor General’s report, there are some issues raised by the Auditor General which I would like to highlight:

  1. There is a lack of timely response by Ministries and Departments to requests for information. When responses were provided, they were inadequate. To solve this problem, the Auditor General noted that section 13(5) of the Public Finance Management Act 2019-1 states: “If a person refuses to produce any records or information as requested by the Comptroller General, that person is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10,000, or imprisonment for 12 months, or both.” He suggested that the legislation should be amended to include the Auditor General.
  2. There is no Leader of the Opposition, so the post of Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is vacant. There is some uncertainty on how the PAC can function. The Auditor General recommends that one of the “independent” senators be allowed to chair the PAC.
  3. In his 2019 report, the Auditor General referred to a Special Audit which was conducted on the Barbados Water Authority (BWA). Legal action has now been taken against the office of the Auditor General by a former Chairman of the Board of the BWA. Any discussion on this report must now be placed on hold pending the decision of the courts. The Auditor General recommends that legislation should provide that any document produced in good faith by, or on behalf of, the Auditor General should be privileged information and protected against lawsuits.
  4. The Treasury Department reported that its receivables increased by $1.238 billion during the year. A great difference exists between amounts reported by the Treasury and the Barbados Revenue Authority.
  5. A balance of $32.8 million was reported in respect of dishonoured cheques. The names of individuals or entities were not provided for audit inspection.
  6. $3.9 million in pensions were paid by the Treasury Department in the names of deceased persons. Sometimes, payments were made 10 years or more after death. 34 pensioners, former government workers, were affected. Over the years, the Treasury Department was unable to access the Death Register information.
  7. BRA recorded $12 million in wire transfers related to taxes paid by taxpayers. However, these wire transfers were not applied to the appropriate taxpayers’ accounts.
  8. With respect to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), access to the SAP information technology system by former employees was not deactivated. Benefit transactions were processed and approved by the same individual.
  9. Old-age NIS pensions were generated for persons who were recorded as deceased within the national Death Register. 10 NIS pensioners were affected, and in some cases, payments were made for over 5 months after death.
  10. Persons no longer employed by BRA still had active credentials and access to the TAMIS application. Some taxpayers had multiple active TAMIS numbers. BRA was not informed of deceased taxpayers.
  11. Tax refunds payable to taxpayers were reported as $611.9 million. The audit of BRA was characterized by extremely long delays in the provision of information to the auditors and this would have impacted negatively on its timely completion. Cash and banking information was not properly reconciled. This matter has been ongoing for several years. It poses risk of errors, omissions, or acts of fraud being perpetrated and concealed.
  12. Clearwater Bay Ltd, a government company, made a loan guarantee of $120 million. This loan guarantee was connected to the construction of the proposed Four Seasons -managed Hotels and Villas. The $120 million were originally shown as a receivable but then written off in 2018. The Auditor General holds the view that this $120 million should not have been written off. The Government of Barbados paid $124.3 million to the bank after the loan was called. A check with The Land Registry Department indicates that the property has been conveyed to a private company. There is no evidence of money being paid by the private company.

Minister of Education Kay McConney

With respect to educational reform, we are not limiting our analysis and discussion to the 11+ exam. I have my own ideas and vision and you have yours, so let us discuss.

Sandy Kellman has eloquently and repeatedly shown us that our new system of education must expose all of our children to assessments and tests at an early age in order to detect learning challenges and disabilities. Those young children with learning challenges should receive adequate remedial treatment as early as possible. Funds from the education budget will be allocated for this purpose, and jobs will be created.

Primary school students will be encouraged to develop their talents in art, the performing arts, music, technology, sports, English, Mathematics, Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Metrics will be used in all of these areas, and teaching and coaching jobs will be created to prepare students for a vastly expanded 11+ exam.

Talents surfacing at the primary level will be further developed at the secondary school level with teachers, coaches, musicians, artists, singers, playwrights, poets, writers, and religious ministers all playing a critical and pivotal role. Many jobs are waiting to be created. We are going to need the experience and the wisdom of the John Goddards, the Ralph Jemmotts, and others to help guide us forward.

CXC, CAPE, and SAT exams will be taken by secondary school students. High SAT scores will enable our secondary school students to attend polytechnics and universities in the USA where their marketable skills and talents will undergo the last stage of development. After that, the brilliance and talents of a young Barbadian population will be unleashed upon the rest of the world.

The overall objective of this new education policy is to generate foreign exchange earnings for Barbados. At present, we are on the wrong course. We need to find a new direction. As a people, we need to pivot the Barbadian economy around a new axis.

139 thoughts on “Walter Blackman – Findings from the 2021 Auditor General’s Report, and Educational Reform

  1. David July 18, 2022 9:56 PM
    “Walter whether he likes it or not is labeled a Dee.”

    You may be right.

    I have said it many times before, and I will say it again. Public education is not an easy task. Given the level of my engagement with a global audience, however people choose to label me, they are free to do so. That’s fine. I am not going to stupidly fight against any labels.

    However, I have the right to speak my truth.
    The policies of Errol Barrow helped me. The DLP has not helped me. The BLP has not helped me.

    I was nurtured and nourished by Wesley Hall Infants and Primary Schools, Combermere, The University of the West Indies, The University of Nebraska, The Society of Actuaries, The American Academy of Actuaries, The Conference of Consulting Actuaries, and The Joint Board for the Enrolment of Actuaries. These are the institutions that moulded me into the thinking person that I am today. Would I expect the public to label me as a disciple or member of any of these organizations? Of course not!

    I accept my public label, smile to myself at some of life’s ironies, and trudge on.

  2. David July 18, 2022 9:56 PM
    “Walter ……. is labeled a Dee. The blogmaster believes this is the case…….. because he gives DLP supporters a run

    David July 18, 2022 10:01 PM
    ……..the blogmaster has no issue with Walter’s moderating except he can hurry regular or nuisance callers along.

    In cricketing parlance, if you ever hear a sound behind you, don’t bother to look back. It is your off stump that has been sent cartwheeling. Lol.

    You have identified DLP supporters, regular callers, and nuisance callers. You have hinted that I allow these classes of callers more than enough time to put forward their views.

    Giving in to a devilish impulse, I have two questions for you:
    Why are you afraid or hesitant to identify your cherished BLP supporters as another class of callers? Lol
    How would you describe my treatment and handling of BLP supporters?

  3. This is really none of my business but the WB of today can’t hold a candle to the WB of yesteryear. Back then people used to run home to hear him. Just remembering those days brings tears to me eyes man.

    Like Sandy said, How did we get back here?

  4. Bush Tea July 18, 2022 9:58 PM

    “How long before VOB dump your donkey for another Petra Wicky type?”

    Bush Tea,
    You are telling VOB, that if they dump my donkey tomorrow, you would not be surprised. You expect them to do it. You are not telling them that if they dump me, you would take some form of protest action and encourage your friends and family members to join you. You are indirectly asking them “what you waiting for?”

    There are times when you should be unceremoniously crowned “King of Bajan Brassbowls”. This is one of those times. I would not even use a bowl on this occasion. I would crown you with a topsy.
    Up and on, my brother. Tongue and teet’ having words.

  5. Igud Fuhnow July 19, 2022 12:59 AM

    This is really none of my business but the WB of today can’t hold a candle to the WB of yesteryear. Back then people used to run home to hear him. Just remembering those days brings tears to me eyes man.

    Igud Fuhnow,
    Remembering those days brings tears to my eyes also.

    Back then, I was young and nimble and could adopt and defend a lot of positions. I could start out assuming one position, and in the heat of the moment (oops I mean argument), I could switch and still bring joy to whoever was looking for it.
    Alas, I have grown old but wise. I pick a position (or two on my good days) and ask the Lord to help me to stand up and see things through to the end in my battle against younger critics.
    In my younger days, things were really hard to come by . I never thought I would be shedding tears in my older days because I miss those extremely hard times.
    I am really glad that I have you to shed tears with me. Thanks man.

  6. Tun It Down
    I have never listened to a Walter Blackman Radio Show
    my excuse is I don’t live in the Little Island
    I prefer listening to music vibes more than talk

    But, his credibility as a big celebrity, critical thinker and intellectual must be diminished when he spends time on Bu

    Stranger In Town

  7. Keep up the pressure!
    Watchdog urges Barbados not to relent in money laundering fight

    GLOBAL WATCHDOG the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) wants Barbados to continue implementing measures against money laundering and terrorist financing “as soon as possible”, following the recent expiration of all deadlines to do so.
    However, while confirming that the FATF action plan expired at the end of April, Attorney General Dale Marshall said that since 2018, “Barbados is now compliant or largely compliant with the ‘Big 6’ FATF recommendations,
    and has secured additional upgrades such that there are no remaining concerns relating to technical compliance that attract monitoring by the FATF”.
    The FATF ended its most recent plenary in Berlin, Germany, on June 17.
    Afterwards, it acknowledged the progress Barbados and 22 other “jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies” had made “in combating money laundering and terrorist financing, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19”.
    “Barbados should continue to work on implementing its action plan to address its strategic deficiencies,” it said.
    These included “taking appropriate measures to prevent legal persons and arrangements from being misused for criminal
    purposes, and ensuring that accurate and up-to-date basic and beneficial ownership information is available on a timely basis; [and] ensuring its [Financial Intelligence Unit’s] financial intelligence products further assist law enforcement authorities in investigating money laundering or terrorist financing”.
    This was in addition to “demonstrating that money laundering investigations and prosecutions are in line with the country’s risk profile and result in sanctions, when appropriate, and provide statistics or case studies demonstrating a reduction of any backlog of cases; [and] further pursuing confiscation in money laundering cases, including by seeking assistance from foreign counterparts.
    “The FATF encourages Barbados to continue to implement its action plan to address the abovementioned strategic deficiencies as soon as possible as all deadlines have now expired,” the FATF said.
    Marshall said that regarding the issue of effective implementation of the FATF recommendations, Barbados continued to engage with the task force on delivering a February 2020 agreed action plan.
    “It captures the key actions, with completion
    timelines, that a country needs to take. By the time of the expiry of the final timeline in the plan, that is, [when] the action plan expires, the country should evidence tangible and sustainable progress which, once verified, leads to delisting,” he explained.
    “Any material slippage over the life of the plan is reflected in the strength of the language in the FATF listing or relegation to the List of High-Risk Jurisdictions to a Call for Action. Even though Barbados’ action plan expired at the end of April this year, the FATF continues to be supportive of our efforts and has urged us to complete the outstanding actions in the shortest possible time.”
    The Attorney General said COVID-19 had “troubled” the pace of implementing Barbados’ action plan.
    “Notwithstanding, several action items are at a satisfactory level of implementation such that these are not in focus in ongoing discussions with the FATF. There are other areas being monitored by the FATF, and Barbados has been urged to continue the programmes in progress to demonstrate implementation and ultimately their effectiveness,” he said.

    Source: Nation

  8. Swift action needed to fix audit issues

    The following is a submission by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados in response to the Auditor General’s Report.
    THE UNDERLYING THEME in the Auditor General’s Report 2021 appears to be a lack of good governance. This is of serious concern as a lack of good governance can derail any attempt that Barbados has towards sustainable development.
    If this goes unaddressed, Barbados will continue to need the intervention of external agencies and may never fully be able to reduce unemployment or have its social programmes and policies achieve their intended objectives.
    By way of background, under the Public Finance Management Act 2019-1, one of the roles of the Barbados Audit Office is to conduct an audit of Government’s financial statements. This office is headed by the Auditor General. The act states clearly the criteria for reporting, including such rules as dates for financials to be presented and standards to be followed. Yet, according to the Auditor General, he received some accounts late and some agencies did not follow the applicable reporting standards. Notably, the Auditor General stated: “These financial statements would therefore be misleading to a user.”
    The Auditor General is to be commended for bringing these matters to the fore,
    but this work will be of no benefit to the people of Barbados unless swift action is taken by Government to implement the recommendations contained in the report.
    One of the hallmarks of good governance is the ability to make informed decisions based on the availability of timely and accurate information. This requires adequate and effective internal processes and controls to be in place. The implementation of basic controls in a deliberate and consistent manner would be a good first step to create good governance. Government has a responsibility to the people of Barbados to be able to demonstrate that it safeguards the assets to which it has been entrusted and that it operates transparently. Best practices dictate the existence of adequate supporting documentation and a clear audit trail surrounding transactions.
    With additional pressures being put on Government to provide support to the most vulnerable in the wake of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war, it is vital that Government manage its finances in the most prudent manner to always create sustainable development. We believe that Government needs to have a detailed collaborative review with the relevant ministries, departments and agencies to address the issues raised in the report. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) commends Government on the recent appointment of Oliver Jordan as the special advisor for the reform
    and restructuring of state-owned enterprises. It is hoped that positive change will result from this, including bringing the many long-outstanding audits up to date.
    ICAB hopes that Government will quickly take further action to resolve the various issues raised in the Auditor General’s Report, in particular those that have been raised in successive reports.
    In this regard, ICAB continues to stand ready to be of assistance to the Government in whichever way necessary and to put into practice the slogan of the 2004 Barbados National Sustainability Development Policy: Doing The Right Things By Doing Things Right.

    Source: Nation

  9. “All of these battles are underpinned by a culture that has been carefully cultivated to extend the trappings of a colonial past.
    We hate to admit but we are still functioning in a plantation economy and society. Until we accept this reality, we will always feel that we are swimming against the tide. And, indeed we are.”

    the JUDAS BLOODLINES are working overtime to keep Afrikans trapped and locked permanently in that position..,,who is intelligent will leave it to sink with all on board.

    ……the groupies are free to stay in it without trying to DRAG EVERYONE ELSE into their misery loves company……so they can have others to drown with….i much prefer watch them go UNDER while watching from the sidelines….got a camera for the occasion..

  10. UNlike the groupie FRAUD we got on the BU board…billionaire errand boy…

    “Colin Spencer is an accomplished entertainer. He is well known and respected throughout the country.
    He only got into calypso, after spending a number of years working on tourist liners . He provided jobs and opportunities for other musicians because he had his own band.
    On the local scene , he was a member of a number of bands performing on the hotel circuit and other gigs.
    At no time in his career did he ever claim he was in charge of or worked on any major billion dollars projects that cannot be found.”

  11. Dear Mr.Skinner
    “At no time in his career did he ever claim he was in charge of or worked on any major billion dollars projects that cannot be found.”

    I never said I was in charge of anything, I said associated with even if as a mailboy as suggested by your fellow cabal members. But I understand the need for you to embellish, it’s standard for your tag team partner. That aside, you can’t find what you don’t know to look for. There are all over the web, but because I seek neither validation nor comradeship I will never post a link to please the likes of you. That’s egofowl behaviour. However, nothing would please me more than donating your $$ to a BLP candidate so wager a bet nuh.🤣🤣
    Re Spencer, you have a habit of being selective about who within the ranks of the duopoly is a duopolist, therefore my post rattles. Unlike you, I don’t operate on hearsay. I read, understand and retain. As the Nation story below shows, Colin Spencer was appointed GM/superintendent of the National Stadium–the facility where he’s contested many a Pic-o-de-crop finals and lost like he did in elections contesting SGN. Now if you listen to his 2022 song, you’d understand why I said what I said on my previous post.

  12. “I said associated with even if as a mailboy as suggested by your fellow cabal members. ”

    errand boy..

  13. David BU do not pay Mr Skinner any mind.He claims on the ground Mr Blackman is the fairest and balanced moderator.Really on which ground you mean over and away.Priceless.How csn a man who begins each of his progra.mmes by atyacking the goverment every Thursday and then allow known dems to repeat the ssme thing over and over like Ms Decided, Ralwe, Alvin and Mr P?Of coure they like you sing in the same dem choir .Therefore you would make the nonsensical claim about his fairness.David BU is correct most lisyeners know Mr Blackman, Dr Hinds, Mr Murray to be supporters of the dems.Lidten to their tone of voice when the dem callers are on and compare it to when bee callers like Tall boy and the statsman or Wesley are on how they want to interupt them talking about bringing balance but seldom interupt the dems from talking.I gone.

  14. “A primary school principal questioned when the Common Entrance Exam would finally come to an end, as he insisted that Barbados’ education system is too exam driven.Tyrone Marshall also told 38 Milton Lynch Primary School graduates that the outcome of the secondary school entrance exam should not define them.”

    Yo Walter…the schools now seem to get it….that the 11 plus Slave test WAS NEVER a measure of intelligence….that is not the intent…time to wean the children and their parents off this COLOSSAL government BACKED IGNORANCE..

    won’t even bother to DISTILL why that fraud test has DAMAGED the island’s children to that EXTENT..

  15. @ WARU
    Somewhere along the line, we missed a very simple philosophical purpose of education:
    W.E. Du Bois:
    “ I insist that the object of all true education is not to make men carpenters, it is to make carpenters of men. “

  16. Anti-American referred to Peter Wickham as an Agent of Deceit and get CUT. It was the shortest call in contribution in history .. HA HA HA

    • @Baffy

      You make the establishment uncomfortable of which you friend Peter is snuggly ensconced. Be prepared for the consequences.

  17. “W.E. Du Bois:
    “ I insist that the object of all true education is not to make men carpenters, it is to make carpenters of men. “”

    yep…and Du Bois retired to Afrika, same as Kwame Ture…..both men would have been deported from Barbados’ Slave Society as persona non grata…..unwelcomed..

    the fraud governments, agents of neocolonialism, will NEVER GET IT…..and never will their cadre of clowns…

The blogmaster dares you to join the discussion.