(JollofNews) – For many years in a row, an audit into the accounts of President Yahya Jammeh’s government has uncovered serious corruption and mismanagement of public finances in various state departments.
President Jammeh, a former army lieutenant, came to power in 1994 with promises to instil accountability, transparency and probity in government.
However, an audit by the Auditor General’s Office of the Gambia into his government’s accounts in 2011 has again found that payments of millions of Gambian Dalasis were authorised by various government departments without any documentary evidence to show that they were genuine.
Giving evidence before the Public Accounts and Public Enterprise Committees of the country’s National Assembly in Banjul, Karamba Touray, Auditor General of the Gambia, said there is a weakness of control in the Gambian Government and urgent steps must be taken to address it in order to prevent fraud and other irregularities in the civil service.
He added that just like in the previous years, the treasury directorate was unable to provide his department with supporting documents, information and explanations on a timely basis. He said the inability of the treasury directorate to provide his department with accurate and complete records of the government’s financial records has seriously impeded on their work.
The Auditor General revealed that during the audit period, his department has found that payment vouchers for D6, 129,930.24 spent by the various government departments in 2011 were not presented for audit in contravention of the government’s own financial instructions.
“During the year, other payments vouchers totalling D2, 073,017.07 were made without adequate supporting documents. We also found some vouchers amounting to D910, 165 were attached with only one invoice instead of the three quotations required by the Gambia Public Procurement Authority and without these payment vouchers, I am not able to confirm the validity of the payments,” he added.
He further revealed that like in the previous years, his department has found D7 million of tax payers’ money lying in various commercial banks and was never reported in the 2011 financial statements of the government.
He added that although the Budget Management and Accountability Act 2004 states that commercial bank accounts could only be used in exceptional circumstances and must be approved by the secretary of state and the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance, there was no evidence to suggest that the secretary of state and permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance have given their approval for these huge sums to be stashed away in commercial banks.
The Auditor General revealed that during the audit period, auditors have found that documents relating to government loans amounting to D1, 813, 841.000 were not presented for audit.
He added that tax arrears of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) for the financial year 2011 were not disclosed in the financial statements of the government and revenue vouchers totalling D11, 010,233.58 were also not presented for audit.
The Accountant General further disclosed to members of the National Assembly that as in the financial statements for 2009 and 2010, non-urgent and foreseen expenditure were made from the contingency fund of the government in 2011 in contravention to the country’s constitution.
He added that auditors have also found that records of government loans to public bodies such as the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority, NAWEC, GAMTEL and the Gambia Groundnut Cooperation were deleted from the 2011 financial statements of the government.
He added: “Section 42 (K) of the Government Budget Management and Accountability Act requires the inclusion of a summary statement of stores and other assets at the end of the financial year. This was not done in these financial statements. Section 42 (d) of the act further requires the inclusion of a summary of the outstanding public debt, both external and domestic, shown in terms of debt instruments and debt holders but it was not done in these financial statements. Furthermore, section 39 (1) of the act also requires the department of state to maintain a detailed records of the government debts, but again this was not done in these financial statements.”
Taking a swipe at the government, the Auditor General said the Jammeh regime needs to make urgent focus on ensuring that its financial statements capture the accounting transactions entirely from all the bank accounts, from the direct government expenditure of budget and all development expenditure including projects.