Auditor General reports not taken seriously

The Ministry of Agriculture does not take seriously the reports and findings of the Auditor General, the Thematic Committee for Public Accounts has revealed to Parliament.

 Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made

A report presented to Parliament by the Committee recently indicated that irregularities exposed by the AG’s office over years continued to recur, suggesting that the ministry did not take heed of recommendations made to properly audit its books.

The AG’s office noted that there was a breakdown of the Public Finance Management Systems in the ministry, resulting in the failure to document its expenditure.

Consequently, in a follow-up the Committee observed that for the second year in succession the ministry produced an unreliable accounting system as evidenced by the existence of three different expenditure figures, which were irreconcilable.

“An appropriation account for 2011 reflected a total expenditure of $154 070 999, the Sub Paymaster General Account recorded $142 465 122 while the PFMS had $146 521 040.

“In 2010 the Appropriation account reflected $215 511 694, the PFMS had $112 730 411 while the Sub Paymaster’s bank statement showed an amount of $205 876 312,” read part of the Committee statement.

Given the conflicting records the AG’s office could not ascertain the correctness of the expenditure figures for the 2010 and 2011 financial periods.

Legislators observed that the ministry’s total expenditure might include fraudulently processed vouchers resulting in government paying for services not rendered or goods not delivered to the ministry.

The Committee noted with concern that the ministry did not consider recommendations made by the AG’s office that reconciliations be done on monthly.

There were also observations by the Committee that the ministry presented falsehoods before Parliament regarding compliance with the monthly reconciliation recommendations.

“By presenting falsehoods before the Committee that it was in compliance with the AG’s reports, it showed that the ministry was not taking the Committee and the AG seriously,” noted legislators.

The ministry incurred excess expenditure of $14 564 569 across 58 line items though within the overall budget allocation.

The Committee was concerned that if the practice continued unchecked, in future the ministry would incur overdrafts on the Sub Paymaster-General Account and subsequently attract bank charges that were not initially budgeted for.

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