Swaziland: Reporting of Swaziland Govt Finances Fails to Meet International Standards, Auditor General States

Government finances in Swaziland (eSwatini) continue to be in a mess with widespread misreporting of assets and liabilities, the kingdom's auditor general reported.

Timothy Matsebula listed a catalogue of errors that included bank balances that were misstated by nearly E125 million because government cash books did not tally with bank statements.

The figures were part of the auditor general's annual report for the year ended 31 March 2019 just published. He described the reporting as 'unacceptable' and said it did not conform to international standards.

Matsebula reported, 'Other bank balances were understated by E16,682,280.78 in aggregate; thus, reflecting an incorrect cash position of the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini at year end.'

He also highlighted a bank balance that had nearly E1 billion IMF Special Drawings Rights had not been disclosed.

The auditor general found assets amounting to E1.9 million were incorrectly classified as liabilities in the Detailed Statement of Liabilities. 'These bank balances were reported as overdrawn bank accounts whereas bank statements showed that the accounts had positive balances, as at the year end.'

Elsewhere, overstated liability account balances amounted to E403 million while understated liability account balances amounted to E87 million.

Matsebula also found there had been unauthorised over-expenditure of E845 million in recurrent expenditure budget. There was also unauthorised over-expenditure of E16 million in the capital expenditure budget.

Matsebula concluded, 'I draw attention to the presentation and disclosures in the financial statements which reflect an unacceptable financial reporting framework. The current financial reporting practice does not conform to any internationally recognised financial reporting framework and does not present the Government Accounts (Financial Statements) fairly in some accounting areas.'

This is not the first time the auditor general has found the government accounts to be inadequate. Last year billions of emalangeni could not be accounted for. In his annual report for the 2018 Matsebula stated government revenue, assets, and liabilities 'were materially misstated'. He said in some cases it was impossible to reconcile government cash books with bank statements.

The AG reported then, 'Misstatements can arise from fraud or error and are considered material if, individually or in the aggregate, they could reasonably be expected to influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of these Financial Statements.'

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