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LIAT aeroplanes remain grounded at a regional airport.

Barbados auditor general concerned about State’s funds to LIAT

LIAT aeroplanes remain grounded at a regional airport.

The Barbados Government is being asked to provide more details regarding its investment in the Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT.

The Government’s chief auditor, in the 2020 annual report, is questioning a lack of full disclosure by the State regarding the true level of its investment in the airline. According to the auditor general’s report, the State’s investment in the airline was recorded in the Financial Statements as at 31st March 2019 as BDS$214.342 million (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents).

“Since this agency has faced financial difficulties and other challenges, the amounts listed should have been representative of the fair value rather than the sums injected”

— Auditor General Leigh Trotman

But the auditor general said that “this figure was based on capital injections into this entity”.

Auditor General Leigh Trotman has a problem with the nature of the accounting entry.

“Since this agency has faced financial difficulties and other challenges, the amounts listed should have been representative of the fair value rather than the sums injected,”

Auditor General Leigh Trotman (Photo: Barbados Today)

“As a result, issues related to LIAT were not adequately disclosed in the notes of the financial statements,” Trotman added.

The Barbados Government is one of the major shareholders in LIAT, which is currently under a court-approved Administrator arrangement in Antigua and Barbuda. The company is undergoing restructuring in an effort to stave off liquidation.

LIAT, which is owned by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines, owes millions of dollars in severance and other entitlements to terminated workers from across the region.

Last year, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that a decision had been taken that would allow St Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados to turn over their shares in LIAT to Antigua and Barbuda for EC$1.00 dollar (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) each.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne (File photo)

Browne said investors from as far as Africa had expressed an interest in the reorganised LIAT.

In November last year, following a seven-month absence, LIAT operated its first flight to Dominica and in the later months, began operating a limited schedule of flights that had been affected by the closure of several airports as a result of the efforts by regional governments to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.