Auditor General not taken seriously

Accounting officers at government ministries, including State House are failing to implement recommendations and advice by the Auditor General in his audit reports.

This is becoming a cause for concern as the same recommendation and observations are made by the Auditor General over some years.

While the Auditor General is doing commendable work in thoroughly auditing the finances of government, it goes to waste if his recommendations are simply ignored.

In three financial reports tabled by the Auditor General in the National Assembly recently, the AG repeatedly express concern over recommendation that were made in previous reports not implemented.

The Windhoek Observer selected three reports namely that of Ministry of Health and Social Services, Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security as well as State House.

The singular message coming through is that the accounting officers and the Executive Directors are not attended or acted on recommendations that were made in the auditor report/s of previous years.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services have repeatedly for the past five years not been able to properly account for its vehicles, according to the Auditor General. Vehicle numbers provided simply don’t tally with the master list and is 241 more than this list. Accounting officer is again told to ‘’ensure that this receives urgent attention’’. But, will this happen – NO, because it has been reported since five years ago and nothing has been done and there are no CONSEQUENCES, apart from a slap on the wrist.

Both Home Affairs and Health have made double payments to suppliers which is about four million dollars. The recommendation from the Attorney General is that they ensure that the money is returned. The double payment it is believed has something to do with the Integrated Financial Management System and suppliers given multiple account numbers that must be corrected by the Ministry of Finance.

We don’t know if double payments are also experienced in other departments. But, it could be the case and the question is how many millions have been lost through this and whether anyone will ensure the reimbursement of these funds. Judging from the lack of implementation of previous recommendations given by the Auditor General, we can just as well accept that the money is lost.

However, we find solace in a statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs that the entities that received double payments have paid back the money. We hope that the other ministries who may have experienced the same follow Home Affairs example.

At the Office of the President, the Auditor General, although giving it a clean bill of health, expresses concern about the Number One office ignoring procurement procedures and Treasury guideline on the opening of the credit card accounts in the name of State House employees working closely with the President and the controls exercised over them.

The Auditor General also raised issues about how the bank account of Marginalised San people was administered with cash money withdrawn to pay for some of the programmes and stipends for school-going children. According to the AG names of beneficiaries were changed on the list on payment sites, when found that some on the list have dropped out and could not be found and the money given to newly enrolled learners. Who says that the money has gone to real beneficiaries.

Another complaint raised by the Auditor General in the audit of the State House is the use of emergency procurement without providing supporting documentation that the supplier is the only one that could provide the service or goods. This the Auditor General warns could lead to fraud and misappropriation of funds and the Number One Office that should set the example should not fall foul of policy.
It is clear from the comments of the Auditor General that some ministries are repeat offenders in flouting Treasury rules, because there is no CONSEQUENCE for ignoring recommendations that are aimed at good governance and to root out any trace of corruption.

Our hope is that the Auditor General be given teeth to bite or to hand over these repeat offenders to law enforcement for issues such as unauthorised expenditure running into millions of dollars, ignoring tender regulations and other more serious financial mismanagement offences.

By Observer