The Auditor General of The Gambia has Tuesday presented the audited financial report of the Government of The Gambia 2012-2013 before legislators of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees (PAC/PEC).
Karamba Touray told lawmakers of his responsibility as Auditor General, saying one of it is to express an opinion on the financial statement in accordance with the relevant and legal regulatory requirements, which he noted, is established by the Constitution of The Gambia.
As an independent auditor, he audited strands of government financial transactions including receipts and payment statements of revenue and expenditure consolidated funds; statement of the financial position as well as accounting policies amongst a host of others.
In his report for the year ended 31st December, 2013, he outlined the role of the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, saying he’s responsible for preparation of the financial statement in accordance with the budget management and accountability act 2004, as well as ensuring the regularities of financial transactions.
“The Permanent Secretary at MoFEA is responsible for ensuring that there is adequate internal control arrangement in place to safeguard public funds and putting in place measures to prevent and detect fraud,” he said.
“I conduct my audit with international standards of supreme auditing institution issued by International Organisation of Supreme Institution. This standard requires that I comply myself with ethical requirements and plane and perform the audit to obtain a reasonable assurance whether the financial statements are free from material misstatement.”
On the purchase of motor vehicles, the Auditor General disclosed that during the period under review, examination of payment vouchers in the audit period reveals segments of arrears amounting to seventy-one million three hundred and seventy-seven thousand five hundred made to various vehicle suppliers. Payments of these arrears, he told lawmakers, were initiated through internal memos addressed to the Senior Accountant at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs with instruction from the Deputy Director of Budget.
For the Financial year 2012 and 2013, Mr. Touray said, the outstanding balances were unable to be confirmed in respect of the arrears for the purchase of the motor vehicles.
He outlined implications attached to the manner, pointing out that there was a risk that the government was over paying suppliers; and that there’s also a risk that government’s outstanding arrears were misstated and that it could significantly impact budget planning.
He further recommended that the Ministry should maintain records of arrears, which he said, should be regularly reconciled. He added that the Ministry should also properly plan motor vehicles purchased in order to cartel the building up of arrears, whereas suspended payment of these arrears until a comprehensive reconciliation exercise is carried out with the suppliers.
The Management’s respond, he added indicated that the issues arose mainly as a result of the centralisation of the payment of government vehicles, which they said, has now been decentralised in order to avert the accumulation of arrears.
The auditors, however, commented that they weren’t able to confirm government’s obligation if any; to the suppliers and also that they could not confirm the accuracy of the amount.
by Bekai Njie & Jainaba D. Jatta