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Auditor General demands monthly financial reports from ministries

Business

Mohloai Mpesi

In a stern address during the Pre-Budget meeting, Auditor General ‘Mathabo Makenete called for ministries to provide monthly financial reports.

Makenete expressed concern over the practice of ministries requesting supplementary budgets without utilising them, a practice which she said hinders effective auditing.

“The issue of ministries requesting supplementary budgets without executing them makes our mandate difficult as we find significant discrepancies during the auditing process,” Makenete emphasised.

The Pre-Budget meeting was recently held at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru last Friday.

Auditor General stressed the need for ministries to furnish monthly financial reports as an immediate remedy.

“When we conduct our audits, we often discover significant differences between budgets and actual expenditures. The worst part is that some ministries request supplementary budgets but fail to utilise the allocated funds,” Makenete stated.

“We urge ministries to account for how they have used the money every month. This will streamline the auditing process, allowing us to focus on recent reports instead of delving into historical data,” she added

Makenete further highlighted the importance of Principal Secretaries adhering to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) in order to fulfill their responsibilities.

She underlined the crucial relationship between transparency, accountability, and responsibility within government operations.

“It is vital for Chief Accounting Officers to understand that they are obliged to execute certain mandates as stipulated in the PFMA Act and Treasury regulations. We need them to take responsibility for the execution of ministries’ mandates and reporting,” Makenete asserted.

She called upon Civil Society Organizations to advocate for accountability within the government.

Echoing Makenete’s sentiments, Accountant General, ‘Malehlohonolo Mahase, reiterated the importance of monthly reporting during a session with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on this week.

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning was summoned to address queries raised in the Auditor-General’s reports spanning from March 31, 2017, to March 31, 2021.

Mahase disclosed that the government has embarked on a roadmap for a clean audit, aiming to address adverse reports, including the controversial M6.1 billion. To rectify this, ministries have already started submitting monthly financial reports, with April, May, and June reports already received.

“The introduction of monthly reporting aims to eliminate small uncleared accrual items that arise at the end of each year, such as advances and tour interests given to officials on trips, withholding tax, and account payables,” Mahase explained.

She highlighted the importance of addressing these accrual items during the financial report consolidation process.

Regarding budget reconciliation and execution, Mahase acknowledged the Auditor General’s concerns. Major infrastructural projects, such as roads and buildings, were progressing slowly, and the utilisation of allocated funds was significantly low.

She said the Auditor General emphasised the importance of executing budgets for such projects, as they create employment opportunities and deliver services to the nation.

Mahase also revealed that discussions were held with the Cabinet regarding “below the line” items that have remained unresolved since 2008-2009.

She said the Auditor General recommended writing off these items to prevent recurring queries. A directive was issued to propose the clearance of such items, including the M6.1 billion, in the 2022-2023 financial statements.

As the government strives for transparency and accountability, the Accountant General confirmed that a request would be made to the Cabinet to write off these items in the 2023 consolidation process.

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