N.B. finance minister orders audit of Crown liquor retailer after bonus payout
FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick's finance minister has ordered an internal audit of NB Liquor, just days after reports revealed that an accounting issue prompted a huge payout of extra employee and management bonuses.
The Crown-owned liquor retailer paid out almost $405,000 in extra sales incentives and executive bonus payments at the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year when it had to add an extra week to the fourth quarter.
NB Liquor said the added week was an effort to comply with accounting procedures set out in the province's Liquor Control Act.
The year end was pushed back in 2017-18, requiring a 53rd week.
The added week increased the net income for the corporation, and in turn, the bonuses. However, by removing the week from the first quarter of 2018-19, targets weren't met and no bonuses were paid for that quarter.
Finance Minister Ernie Steeves says the audit will be done by the Office of the Comptroller.
"Our government is committed to be open, honest and accountable to New Brunswickers and to protect their interests," Steeves said in a statement Thursday.
"It is important to be up front about how we manage their taxpayer dollars. By making this decision, we ensure complete fiscal transparency and, most importantly, we ensure that we maintain public confidence in our Crown corporations, agencies and departments."
Bonuses are paid out if results exceed approved budget targets.
According to figures provided by NB Liquor, the total amount paid to general employees under the sales incentive plan for 2017-18 was $862,531, with an additional $69,423 for executive management bonuses.
Those amounts for 2018-19 fell to $252,242 and $56,923 respectively.
The company says future annual reports will detail the actual number of weeks to ensure there is no confusion.
The audit will start immediately, and the Office of the Comptroller will report back to the government by September.