At the Public Accounts Committee meeting held on 10 February 2014, the Financial Secretary gave an undertaking to issue a press release on the differences between Qualified and Unqualified Opinions. This follows the audit of SHG’s Financial Statements for 2011/12 by the Chief Auditor.
What is an Audit Opinion?
An Audit Opinion is a statement by the Auditor as to whether or not the financial statements are materially correct.’ There are four types of opinions: Unqualified, Qualified, Adverse and Disclaimer.
What is an Unqualified Opinion?
An Unqualified Opinion is the best result, and is often referred to as a ‘Clean Opinion’. It means that the financial statements are materially correct. This can be described as either ‘presented fairly’ or ‘true and fair’.
What does Qualified mean?
A Qualified Opinion means that the financial statements are materially correct, except for one or more specific errors (with the rest of the financial statements being fairly presented).
What about Adverse and Disclaimer?
An Adverse Opinion means that there are so many errors that the financial statements are not materially correct.
A Disclaimed Opinion means that the Auditor has not been able to obtain enough evidence to come to a conclusion.
What does this mean for St Helena Government?
SHG’s 2011/12 accounts were Qualified on two matters – the Eligibility of Social Benefit Payments and the Pension Cost Disclosure. An Adverse Opinion was given in regards to the Non-consolidation of Subsidiary Bodies.
The Qualification for the Pension Cost Disclosure should disappear in 2012/13, but the other two Qualifications will remain. Work will be carried out on pension legislation in mid 2014 – to remove the Qualification of Pension Costs. The Adverse Opinion on consolidation requires a detailed review, including of the cost v benefits of such a consolidation and the benefits of this to the general public.
Want to Know More?
SHG’s Financial Statements for 2011/12, the Chief Auditor’s Opinion and his Management Letter can all be found on the SHG website at: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/finace/ or by calling into Corporate Finance at the Castle and requesting a copy.
21 February 2014