Botswana: Missing Billions Story False, Malicious

Gaborone — Bank of Botswana has dismissed as false and a malicious fabrication of facts a Botswana Gazette story published Wednesday headlined "Shocking! P22 Billion Missing at Bank of Botswana".

A BoB press release describes the story as not only false and malicious but also calculated to tarnish the bank's good reputation and integrity as well as compromising the country's financial compliance record.

According to the release, the story was reportedly founded on Auditor General's report entitled "Report of the Auditor General on the Accounts of the Botswana Government for the Financial Year ended 31 March 2018".

The story grossly and erroneously misinterprets the contents and substance of the report on pages 24 - 25 which state "The Remittances Account, the main Government bank account at Bank of Botswana had a balance of P787 137 598 as at 31 March 2018 ", says the release further stating BoB does not have any outstanding reconciliations and that those mentioned in the report are at government and not bank level.

Explaining that the perennial reconciliation problems of the said account had persisted in the year under review, the release adds:

"In his submission to the Public Accounts Committee on the accounts of the previous year, the Accounting Officer had informed the committee that efforts to resolve the reconciliation issues of that year were in progress and had hoped to complete by October 2018, which is 19 months after the year to which they relate".

The release also indicates that the unreconciled items in the statement should be examined and resolved as soon as possible after discovery and therefore in the year under review, unreconciled payments totaled P2 274 266 757 while unreconciled receipts totaled P19 660 376 833.

"The P22 billion purported to be missing is a careless and irresponsible addition of the above figures (P2 274 266 757 and P19 660 376 833) by the Gazette newspaper," says the release.

BoB explains that account reconciliation is a process through which customers compares their records with a statement from their banker and that the figures mean a total of P2 274 266 757 was paid out by government while P19 660 376 833 was paid to, or received by government "therefore it is shocking that deposits of P19 660 376 833 are considered missing money".

It is the Auditor General's concern that the amounts have not been reconciled not that they were missing, the release states.

The bank further clarifies that other than its function of providing banking services to government, it is also a statutory institution that has its own accounts while its audited annual financial statements are submitted to Parliament by April 30 each year as required by the Bank of Botswana Act.

"The record clearly demonstrates that successive financial statements have generated clean audit reports, confirming appropriate maintenance of accounts, existence of sound risk management and internal control environment, and in general, effective governance structures at the Bank of Botswana," says the release.

Source : BOPA

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