Auditor general: No accounts provided for RBPF’s Welfare Fund

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Welfare Fund of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) had to be estimated by the auditor general during a forensic audit of the organization’s accounts as the auditors were not provided bank statements nor financial statements.

The Welfare Fund is primarily funded by the Private Engagement Fund.

The report noted that there may be other funding mechanisms such as fines, deductions and repayments that flow into the Welfare Fund.

The fund is solely managed by the commissioner of police and is intended to provide assistance to officers and their families in the form of in-service awards, personal loans, widower support and other social related assistance.

The auditor general, in his report for the period January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2018, estimated the annual inflow to the fund at $190,000 based on a testing period: October 2017 – June 2018.

“For the remaining months of July, August and September 2018, we estimated the total monthly service charge made to customers and total amount paid to officers based on our nine-month testing period,” the report read.

“The total net revenue was split in a 60:40 ratio between the welfare fund and Police Association.”

In October 2017, the service to the fund was $120,955. Of that, $93,293 was paid to officers for the private engagement work.

Of the $27,701 in net revenue, $11,081 went to the Police Association, while $16,621 was transferred to the Welfare Fund.

The largest inflow during the testing period occurred in February 2018.

That month, $388,944 was the service amount from private engagements.

Nearly $325,000 was paid to officers. The net revenue of nearly $65,000 saw $25,743 transferred to the Police Association, while $38,614 went to the Welfare Fund.

The auditor general recommended that all funds be properly maintained and reported in accordance with the Police Force Act, which states that the commissioner shall keep proper accounts and other records in relation to the Wards and Fines Fund, the Private Engagement Fund, the Band Fund, the Canteen Fund or any fund established under the act, and shall prepare a statement annually of account “in a form satisfactory to the minister of finance”.

The auditor general noted that it was a legal requirement to be provided access to all books, records, returns and reports to related to such accounts.

He also noted that the commission shall in each year, submit accounts of the preceding financial year and the minister shall have that report, and the auditor’s report, tabled in both houses of Parliament.

He continued, “Such reports shall be published in one newspaper published and circulating in The Bahamas”.

In response, management of the RBPF said the revenue received from the 60 percent split from the Private Engagement Fund will be placed in a separate account established by the commissioner of police.

Management also said a policy will be in effect July 1, 2019, which will outline the use of the Welfare Fund, noting that it will continue to be used for payments on behalf of police officers.