To Audit the Accounts of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs to International Standards (TT0011)
Action Plan: Not Attached
Action Plan Cycle: 2014
Lead Institution: Auditor General
Support Institution(s): Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs, Ministry of Finance and the Economy (Board of Inland Revenue), Multi-stakeholder Group – TTEITI (MSG), TTEITI Secretariat
Policy AreasAudits and Controls, Environment and Climate, Extractive Industries
To ensure by 2015 that the accounts of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs are audited to international standards.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
4.1 To Audit the Accounts of Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries
Commitment Text: To ensure by 2015 that the accounts of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs are audited to international standards.
Responsible Institution: Auditor General
Supporting Institutions: Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI), Ministry of Finance (Board of Inland Revenue), multistakeholder group Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI), TTEITI secretariat
Start Date: October 2014 End Date: September 2015
The government and the TTEITI recognise the need to increase transparency and public accountability—in the extractive industries in particular, and in Trinidad and Tobago in general.[Note 43: Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Secretariat, Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Making Sense of T&T’s Energy Dollars: Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Implementation Workplan (Port of Spain, January 2014), 10, section 5(e), http://bit.ly/1SJGxAf. ] This commitment aims to raise the audits of the MEEI’s accounts to international standards.
While not all targets were met under this commitment, public officials reportedly are working to ensure this commitment is implemented. According to the public officials who conducted the initial audit training, the Auditor General was unable to access data from the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) since the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) did not want to release the data to be audited. The BIR is the main state agency responsible for collecting taxes in Trinidad and Tobago. In this case, the BIR invoked the official secrecy provision (section 4 of the Income Tax Act, chapter 75:01).[Note 44: Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Income Tax Act, Chapter 75:01, section 4 (22 December 1938), http://bit.ly/1SJGTH6. ] Consequently, the implementation of this commitment stalled. For further information, please see the midterm IRM evaluation report.[Note 45: Open Government Partnership, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Trinidad and Tobago progress report 2014–2015, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/TrinidadTobago_14-15_Final_0.pdf. ]
End of term: Limited
According to TTEITI representatives, staff training at the Auditor General’s Department has been conducted and is also a continuous process. The auditing of the MEEI’s and the BIR’s accounts have not been conducted because of the invoking of the secrecy provision to prevent the Auditor General from accessing tax data related to the MEEI. A Joint Select Committee in Parliament appeared to recognise the problem, noting that it might entail amending section 4 of the Income Tax Act. At that sitting, held on 8 June 2016,[Note 46: Public Accounts Committee, Public Hearing, Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, 8 June 2016, http://www.ttparliament.org/documents/news/mrFFD6B3.PDF. ] the Auditor General expressed frustration with the secrecy clause as an impediment to the audit process.[Note 47: Geisha Kowlessar, “Secrecy Rule in Income Tax Act to Be Amended,” Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 23 June 2016, http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2016-06-23/secrecy-rule-income-tax-act-be-amended. ] A report given by the TTEITI chair reflects the government’s commitment to amending the Income Tax Act to waive the secrecy provision currently impeding the Auditor General’s mandate.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Marginal
The accounts of the MEEI are not audited to international standards. While this commitment did not specify any participation mechanism to facilitate public accountability, it is a good first step in increasing the public’s access to information on the ministry’s accounts. This commitment marginally impacted government practises to disclose more or improve information. The Auditor General Department staff training is the first stage in the process and is focused on building internal capacity. Unless the Income Tax Act is amended to allow the Auditor General to fulfil the mandate, the scope of this commitment will remain limited. An amendment would be necessary to allow the Auditor General access to the relevant energy and the related extractives revenues information.
This commitment should be continued and should include a public accountability mechanism, such as an online platform enabling public requests for information. Additionally, this commitment could be linked to open data commitments and feature open data access for citizens to the Auditor General’s work.
Trinidad and Tobago's Commitments
To Certify Public Agencies’ Service Quality
TT0001, 2014, Capacity Building
To Develop Human Resources Management Capacity in the Public Service
TT0002, 2014, Capacity Building
To Conduct a Pilot Project for the Development and Introduction of a “Easier Life for Citizens” Index
TT0003, 2014, Public Service Delivery
To Develop Interactive Media on Government Business Processes and Programs to Better Access Government Services
TT0004, 2014, Public Service Delivery
To Establish a Contact Centre to Address the Needs of National Scholars (Local and International) of Trinidad and Tobago
TT0005, 2014, Education
To Adopt a Policy on Data Standards and Classification Frameworks
TT0006, 2014, Open Data
To Increase the Number of Publicly Accessible Government Datasets in Open Formats
TT0007, 2014, Open Data
To Conduct a Diagnostic Review of Public Information Needs
TT0008, 2014, Open Data
To Create an Easily Accessible Open Government Portal , with a Platform/Repository for Open Data, as Well as an Interface to Allow for Feedback from the Public
TT0009, 2014, Open Data
To Create a Civil Society Board
TT0010, 2014, Public Participation
To Audit the Accounts of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs to International Standards
TT0011, 2014, Audits and Controls
To Make Publicly Available the Cadastre of Licenses and Contracts for the Exploration and Production of Oil and Gas in Trinidad and Tobago
TT0012, 2014, E-Government
To Include the Mineral Sector (Starting with National Quarries Company Ltd) in the TTEITI Reporting Mechanism
TT0013, 2014, E-Government