Sunday, 13 September 2020

LOCKDOWN HAMMERS GOVT AUDITS


The release of the 2019 Auditor-General’s report has been delayed indefinitely after Government auditors failed to complete examining all public accounts as a result of Covid-19-induced restrictions.

In terms of Section 309 (2) of the Constitution, read with Section 10 of the Audit Office Act [Chapter 22:18], the Auditor-General is required to prepare and submit a report of all Government books to the Minister of Finance, who then tables it in Parliament not later than June 30 of each year.

However, the audit was disrupted by the lockdown, which began on March 30. The Auditor-General, Mrs Mildred Chiri, told The Sunday Mail that the lockdown had unfortunately coincided with the period her office conducts year-end audits.
  
“The reason why the report has been delayed this year is mainly because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Mrs Chiri.

“We usually do our year-end audits starting from March to around May, but then this was around the time when the lockdown started.

“As a result, this gravely disrupted our work. We are hoping that once the lockdown measures are relaxed, then we can resume the work we had started. 

“We had done much of the work and can be able to do the rest once the restrictions are lifted.”

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who is also the leader of Government business in Parliament, said the coronavirus outbreak had disrupted much of Parliament’s work, including receiving the AG’s report.

“In terms of the law, the Minister of Finance is supposed to table the report before Parliament by June 30,” said Minister Ziyambi.

“But in the case where the Finance Minister is unavailable, he can request that I submit the report on his behalf.

“But on the whole, you must appreciate that because of Covid-19, everything was not functioning as well as it should during normal times and this also includes Parliament itself.”

The 2018 Auditor-General’s Annual report exposed shambolic accounting records in some ministries and the diversion of public funds, while in some instances goods procured by some public entities were not delivered. 

The Second Republic has, however, made a commitment to use findings from the audit reports to prosecute those who might be implicated in corrupt practices. Sunday Mail

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