FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda)

Gambia: Auditor General Presents Report for 2009 and 2010 Points Out Weaknesses in Controls

The Pubic Account and Public Enterprise Committees of the National Assembly received the report from the Auditor General's office which report points out weaknesses in controls and unreconciled payments of more than 100 million dalasis. The Auditor General, Mr Karamba Touray, while presenting his report before the PAC/PEC committee for the years 2009 and 2010, said the auditing of Government of The Gambia Financial Statements for the periods ending 31 December 2009 and 2010 shows weaknesses in controls which need urgent attention.

Mr. Touray said payment vouchers amounting to D109 million for the year ended 2009 and payment vouchers amounting to D16 million for the year ended 2010 were not presented for audit up to the time of finalizing this report. He bemoans the un-presented Payment vouchers for audit verification and said it casts doubt on whether those payments were genuine.

External Auditor Touray noted that payment vouchers amounting to D4 million for the year ended 2009 and 80 payment vouchers totaling D8 million for year ended 2010 had one invoice attached as opposed to the three quotations required by the GPPA.

He said this is a breach of the established procurement guidelines for Payment vouchers lacking adequate supporting documents.

He further noted that it is observed that 86 payments amounting to D6 million for the year ended 2010 and 280 payments amounting to D76 million year 2009 were made without adequate documentation being attached to the payment vouchers.

He added this is a control weakness and if not addressed may lead to fraud and other irregularities.

Mr. Touray continued and said the verification of the payment vouchers for the year ended 2009, that the audit department noted that 9 payment vouchers amounting to four thousand dalasi and 10 payment vouchers totaling D410 thousand had no supporting documentation attached.

He said this is in contradiction to the dictates of the financial instructions. He threw light on payment vouchers amounting to D100 thousand for the year ended 31 December 2009 and payment vouchers amounting to D2 million for the year ended 31 December 2010.

He said payment is made to different individuals whose names are listed on the voucher attachment list but none of the recipients signed the signature list, as evidence of receiving the said amounts. He stressed that there is a risk that individuals whose names are on the list may not have actually received the claimed sums and that these monies may have been misappropriated. He further referred to the accounts of self accounting projects which he said has continuously been omitted from the consolidated government financial statements over the years.

He said the Auditors Department is concerned about the non inclusion of self accounting projects in the financial statements. Touray opined that the exclusion of development expenditures of self accounting projects will make the financial statement of the government incomplete and could limit the ability to provide adequate information to meet information requirements of users.

He said during the audit outstanding imprest balances were D38 million and D69 million for the financial year ended 31 December 2009 and 31 December 2010 respectively.

He dilated on the risk of officials using impress beyond the due date of retirement as unauthorized loans to themselves, which he said could negatively affect the cash flow position of the Government.

He said the review of payment vouchers showed an amount of over D66 million is made to Gambia International Airline (GIA) to pre-finance 2009 Hajj. He said this money was promised to be refunded after the Hajj season.

He said GIA repaid D45 million leaving an outstanding balance of D21 Million up to the conclusion of this audit. He said there is a risk that this money might never be refunded if proper follow up is not made by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.

This, he said, 'leads to financial loss to government'. He said during the period of audit, it is noted that an amount of D17 million was held in various commercial banks but was not disclosed in the financial statement for the year ending 31 December 2009 and 2010.

He informs that the total bank balances included in the 2009 and 2010 financial statements have been understated. He said that Government sold some of the vehicles that were used during the African Union summit hosted by The Gambia in 2006. He said the rest of the vehicles were provided to senior government officials on loan. He said the agreement is Payment to be deducted from their salaries. However, there is no mechanism in place to monitor the repayments, he said. NAMS' REACTION

Hon. Sulayman Joof, member for Serrekunda West commended the Auditor General and his team for a job well done. He said the office has carried out its mandate by auditing effectively various public institutions. He made reference to the outstanding balances reported by the auditor general.

Hon. Alhagie Sillah, member for Banjul North, said if there is to be growth 'institutions have to follow the rules put in place particularly the procurement and auditing ones.' He called for an urgent reconciliation of the balances mentioned.

Hon. Samba Jallow, Member for Niamina East and Minority Leader said, he is disappointed with how tax payers' monies are being managed by Central government ministries. He said he has discovered that when money is spent, it is not documented. He bemoans the un-availability or lack of presentation of payment vouchers.

On a more serious note, the minority leader questioned the transparency of the present government. He asked: "What is the transparency all about?" He further opined that this signifies there are lots of monies that are mismanaged.

He bemoans "the ministry's denial of information necessary for auditing to the Auditor's office." He said he understood that even the Central Government is not abiding by the GPPA rules and asked: how about those small public institutions? The subject matter specialist in PAC/PEC Alhajie T.S Njie, said over 100 million dalasis outstanding is not a small amount to be dismissed especially in this time.

He said they should toil on how to reconcile this balance. He said this has taken a long period since 2008. He also threw light on the Gamcel/Gamtel issue and said there no documentation and asked why.

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