Tuitt sticks to criticism of Hassink: “Minister does not understand the basis of internal control”POSTED: 12/23/13 1:58 PM
St. Maarten – “Dear media, I am sorry to disappoint you, but I have no political ambitions at this time. It is sad that I write a professional article and you put it in the political arena. That is one of the reasons that problems are not solved on St Maarten. Politics is brought into the picture for everything.” Thus begins a reaction from former finance Minister Tuitt to statements made by his successor Martin Hassink about his claims that the latter closed down the internal control department when he took office.
“Since I am a certified public accountant with many years of auditing experience, I observed that what the minister of finance did is unacceptable in the financial world. Before the media ask the minister critical questions they let him give them a fancy story,” Tuitt wrote in an email to this newspaper.
Tuitt sticks to his point of view in an analysis of Hassink’s reaction. “He says there are thousands of transactions in government and he knows they are recorded in the general ledger. What controls does he have in place to come to that conclusion? He said that all departments have controls and that should be enough to assure the accuracy, timeliness and completeness of the recorded information. What assurance does he have that those controls are functioning properly?”
By making those statements the minister of finance has made known to the world that he does not understand the basis of internal control nor the importance of testing the controls to make sure they are functioning, Tuitt charges in his statement. “The minister has to take a refresher course in auditing and internal control. He also has to read the COSO report and that will give him an idea of what is required from a Chief financial Officer and the internal controls in an institution.”
Tuitt also challenged Hassink’s statement that there are too many controls on the expense side. “That is one reason why you have to have a proper functional department of internal control to test transactions and procedures on a daily basis. The reason I began the process to have a proper functioning internal control department within two years, is because the ministries have to carry their own responsibility. Thus each minister must be responsible for his own expenses. But without proper internal controls this will be impossible. So the story given by the minister does not make any sense.”
Tuitt maintains that Hassink has imposed a hindrance on the functioning of the governmental organization. “This can be taken lightly by the media but the control organizations such as the Soab, Cft, governor, Audit Chamber and parliament have the responsibility to inquire why this was done. The minister of finance chose to let a large organization function without internal control. Maybe this lack of internal control has a political motive.”
It is because of the reasoning of the minister of finance businesses such as world com and Enron do not exist today, Tuitt notes. “Even in Holland the government is required to obtain a separate report on the functioning of internal control. All large organizations are required to get such reports. What about St. Maarten? Do we want to reach some kind of proper functioning government in the near future? Or do we want to remain an unorganized organization with the blessings from top management?”