Juba — Unspecified billions of taxpayers' money went unaccounted for in 2008, either through dubious award of contracts to unregistered companies or inflated payrolls in South Sudan government ministries and agencies, an audit report of its financial statements reveal.
The report, which covers nine specific areas, was unveiled before lawmakers by the Auditor General on 16 July. It looks at budget execution, oil revenue, non-oil revenue, payroll expenditure, internal control and maintenance of asset registers, bank and cash accounts, operating, procurement and expenditures.
Steven Wondu, in his audit report, says budget execution and efficient cash management, in addition to ensuring that the internal control procedures relevant to the preparation and fair representation of the financial statement, is primarily the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
"My responsibility is to express an opinion on whether the financial statements present a true and fair view of the financial position of the government on 31 December 2008 and the income and expenditure for the year then ended," partly reads the Auditor General's report.
The document, he told lawmakers, was conducted in accordance with the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) standards, which reportedly demands that financial statements audited are free from material misstatement.
According to Wondu, the audit found no evidence that the Finance Ministry based its release of funds to spending agencies on approved budget lines, a revelation that makes the ministry entirely responsible for the unexplained loss of public funds.
While some institutions were cash starved, the report says, others received, on the discretion of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, more funds than were legally authorized.
The audit report cites what it describes as single source procurement, which reportedly continued in 2008, contrary to the existing Financial and Accounting Procedures Ordinance (FAPO) and the Interim Public Procurement and Disposal Regulations (IPPDR).
"These contracts were single sourced, not vetted by the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development (MoLACD). Payments were released on the orders of the implementing agencies even before commencement of work," the reports noted.
For instance, against a budget of SDG 2.6 billion meant for Durra purchases in 2008, contracts amounting to SDG 7 billion were reportedly awarded to unregistered companies or those incapable of delivering the ordered quantities were allegedly favoured with purchase orders.
"Payments made without proof of delivery amounted to SDG 37, 027, 800," it further adds.
In another case, according to the Auditor General, the construction of Juba-Rajaf road, estimated at SDG 13,450,407, was reportedly not tendered and yet a 30% down payment was allegedly made to the contractor, in complete violation of procurement procedures.
Visibly shocked lawmakers were also told how a contractor, known to the auditors, was reportedly contracted for SDG 3,791,025 on a single source basis for the construction of three warehouses for the Ministry of Health, allegedly against the objection of the Director of General Procurement.
INFLATED PAY ROLLS
According to the Auditor General, no ministry could avail complete payroll systems and related nominal rolls as required for auditing purposes, raising more eyebrows on the possible existence of "ghost" workers on government pay rolls.
A case in point, he said, was the Ministry of Health, which reportedly failed to present pay sheets for SDG 4,630,055 allegedly paid to four individuals, while the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) Affairs Ministry reportedly fell short of providing pay rolls for 33 out of its 40 divisions.
Also implicated were the Internal Affairs Ministry, the judiciary, Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, Cabinet Affairs, Southern Sudan Electricity Corporation, Human Rights Commission, Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly and the Education Ministry.
"In SSLA [Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly], one employee collected two salaries for four months," the reports notes, adding that, "In MoFEP [Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning], 63 officials collected a salary without being on the nominal roll."
The Auditor General, however, maintains the onus is now on the President and the National Assembly to take further actions on the findings of the report.