By NAN Business Editor
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C. Fri. July 29, 2016: The U.S. State Department on Thursday released its latest Fiscal Transparency Report which accesses countries globally that the U.S. says has not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency. Fiscal transparency oversight by the U.S. looks at whether key budget documents are publicly available, substantially complete, and generally reliable and assesses the transparency of processes for awarding government contracts and licenses for natural resource extraction. Here are the Americas – Latin America and Caribbean nations – the US says have not met the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency:
The US report says Belize landed on the list because the supreme audit institution did not publish audit reports within a reasonable period of time, and appeared under-resourced to accomplish its mission. There were also delays in receiving the budget information necessary to conduct audits in a timely manner, the US report said. It recommended that fiscal transparency could be improved by delivering budget information to the supreme audit institution in a more timely fashion, and having the supreme audit institution publish audit reports within a reasonable period of time.
Haiti, according to the US report, published its enacted budget, but not its executive budget proposal and the government did not publish end-of-year reports. The report also said the budget documents were neither substantially complete nor reliable and allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises were not clearly included in the budget. Meanwhile, it was found that while the criteria and process for allocating licenses and contracts for natural resource extraction were outlined in law, they have apparently been inconsistently applied and even basic information including on natural resource extraction contracts and licenses was rarely publicly available.
The US says Haiti’s fiscal transparency would be improved by making its executive budget proposal and end-of-year reports widely and easily accessible to the general public within a reasonable period of time; clearly identifying natural resource revenues and allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises in the budget; making audited financial statements publicly available for significant state-owned enterprises; making supreme audit institution audit reports publicly available; consistently adhering to the legal criteria and procedures for natural resource contracting and licensing in practice; and making basic information on natural resource contracts and licenses publicly available.
Suriname made the list because the US said the country’s executive budget proposal and end-of-year reports were not available and budget documents lacked sufficient detail on allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises. The report also said information in the budget was not considered fully reliable and that Suriname’s supreme audit institution has not conducted audits in several years. The US says Suriname’s fiscal transparency would be improved by: publishing its executive budget proposal and end-of-year reports; increasing detail on allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises in the budget; making budget execution reports publicly available; and completing audits of the government’s annual financial statements and publishing audit reports within a reasonable period of time.
In Ecuador, the US says complete information on debt obligations, including oil-for-loan agreements, were not publicly available and basic information on awards of contracts were also not publicly available, making it difficult to assess whether procedures used in practice to award licenses and contracts were consistent with law. The report says Ecuador’s fiscal transparency would be improved by publishing complete information on its debt obligations and making basic information on natural resource extraction licenses and contracts publicly available.