After an Exodus of Auditors, Governmental Corruption Goes Unchecked in Ciego de Avila Province

The meeting was led by Gladys Bejerano Portela (center), Comptroller General of the Republic of Cuba

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 March 2024 — Last year, Ciego de Ávila had only 99 of the 172 trained government employees needed to conduct financial audits in the province. The reduction in personnel, who are tasked with preventing theft and the diversion of resources at state companies, was the hot topic at the annual meeting to discuss the work of the provincial government’s auditing system according to an article published on Monday in Invasor, the province’s official Communist Party newspaper.

The article cited low graduation rates in mid-level accounting programs, poor working conditions and meager salaries as the causes of a “marked tendency toward depression” among accountants. It made no mention, however, of the unprecedented exodus that has been draining the Island of all types of workers in recent year, nor of the widespread rejection of accounting as an occupation in a country where the diversion of resources is a way of life of many public-sector employees.

The news comes amid a disastrous situation the government is facing in the agriculture, food manufacturing and tourism sectors. “The Gran Caribe hotel group has no database auditors at its five Jardines del Rey resort hotels. Only Emprestur and Palmares have in-house auditors at all,” reports Invasor.

The news comes amid a disastrous situation the government is facing in the agriculture, food manufacturing and tourism sectors

Of the 121 audits Ciego de Avila carried out in 2023, thirty found incidents the article described as “deficient” and three it described as “bad.” The result was a loss of 97,603,548 pesos in economic damages, the cost of which amounted to 1,746,000 pesos. Invasor noted that, “once again,” the largest number of financial irregularities was in the retail and food service sectors. In several cases, the article points out, the managers justified their actions by saying that the missing money was returned.

As the article points out, actions leading to economic losses in the millions is nothing new. In fact, they are rising dramatically. The figure for 2020 came to more than 5,000,000 pesos. Two years later, Ciego de Ávila auditors revealed that losses amounted to 71,500,000 pesos.

Invasor points out that one of the causes for these losses is failure to meet contractual obligations, from exceeding fuel consumption standards to spending more than was budgeted.

In spite of all the troubles auditors in Ciego de Ávila face, those who work in the Ministry of Construction actually enjoy what they describe as good working conditions. Fidel Contreras, head of the audit department at the Construction and Assembly Company, said his four employees were provided with laptops and motorbikes to facilitate their work.

The solutions proposed by the comptroller’s office to increase the number of auditors do not seem very promising. The short-term plan is to expand career opportunities in auditing starting in September and, in the meantime, to offer training courses to graduates of technical-professional education programs and involve students in “prevention and control actions as part of pre-professional practice.”

The solutions proposed by the comptroller’s office to increase the number of auditors do not seem very promising

One of the first decisions that Raúl Castro made after formally assuming power in 2008, after his brother Fidel stepped aside for health reasons, was to create the post of Comptroller General of the Republic. The bureau and its provinicial subsidiaries quickly accumulated oversight power. Every November, it conducts a review of state-run businesses and publishes the results.

Over the years, however, this annual exercise has lost steam while its reports became slimmer and contained fewer details. The Comptroller’s Office is also receiving less attention from the state media while the prominence of Comptroller General Gladys María Bejarano’s prominence at public events and government meetings has decreased significantly.


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