30 January 2013

Gambia: National Assembly Turns Down UTG Report

The Gambia lawmakers yesterday turned down the activity report and audited financial statements of the University of The Gambia (UTG) based on 'financial discrepancies involving millions of dalasi' during the joint session of the Public Accounts and Enterprises Committees PAC/PEC of the National Assembly at the Legislative Chambers in Banjul.

"Cumulative difference of D5million exists between the adjusted cashbook balance and the bank balances as at 31st December 2011. The Auditors were not able to obtain adequate evidence to resolve the difference", asserted Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, Speaker of the National Assembly.

Speaker Bojang in turning down the report told the management of the UTG/College that the Auditors could not ascertain the valuation and completeness of property, plant and equipment amounting to D52.01 million. He revealed that the university does not maintain a fixed asset register and consequently without any audit trail to assess the reasonableness of depreciation charge of D9.01 million.

"The numerous bank accounts, absence of regular reconciliation by the university which we believe is adequately staffed with local and international staff leaves the joint committees with serious doubts and concerns as to how such a situation can be allowed to happen", he enquired.

Hon Bojang revealed the 29 bank accounts held by the university out of which only two were reconciled, noting that the review and follow up was grossly inadequate. He mentioned the weak budgetary control highlighted by the auditors. He mentioned the budgetary control system which he said is almost impossible to compare budget with actual performance.

"The university lacks a fully functional financial management system. Consequently the level of errors and omissions were numerous", he pointed out.

The Speaker of the National Assembly asserted that the segregation of duties within the financial department was not appropriate. He made mention of imprest payments by the university were expended directly and imprest holders were not retiring the imprest given to them. He said per diem and related payments were not clarified and were inconsistent while staff already sponsored partly applied for full per diem payments. Speaker Bojang complained of per diem payments not passing through the internal audit for necessary verification. He disclosed that some per diem payments were not supported with evidence of invitations and purpose of travel.

"The Human Resource Department does not keep proper records of all university staff", he disclosed.

Speaker Bojang said regular reconciliation to provide assurance on the completeness of revenue was not done. He said the number of registered students for 2011 could not be readily established by the auditors.

"The internal Audit Unit with only one staff reporting to the Vice Chancellor is grossly inadequate in terms of his or her independence and operational effectiveness", he added.

However, Hon. Bojang said these matters are grave by any measure, and further exacerbated by the absence of regular Governing Council meetings and Senate meetings as required by the UTG Act 1999, the joint committees find it appropriate to defer the financial statements to give enough time for auditors to further investigate these concerns.

"The joint committee calls on the Auditor General to carry out a special audit on the major areas of concern and the report should be tabled along with the audited financial statements of the UTG", said Speaker Abdoulie Bojang.

Speaker Bojang recalled the request for UTG to provide additional information on the status of implementation of previous recommendation for Gambia College. He pointed out that the update was missing and should be submitted accordingly. He called for speedy implementation of all previous recommendations.

"Finally, the Clerk of the National Assembly shall convey these concerns in writing to the Vice Chancellor and the Auditor General accordingly. The Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service and the Hon. Minister of Higher Education shall also be informed", he stressed.

The management of UTG/College present at the Assembly were Prof. Muhammad Kah, Vice Chancellor of UTG, Dr. Omar Jah, Deputy Vice Chancellor, and Mr. Jenung Manneh, Mr. Kojo, Financial Director, and Mr. Yankuba Mamburay among others.

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