COVID-19 delays annual audit report detailing govt irregularities

Published On: July 8, 2020 04:41 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

OAG officials say the report to be made public after lockdown is lifted 

KATHMANDU, July 8: The Office of Auditor General (OAG) has delayed the preparation of its annual report that comprises a thorough audit of expenditures by the government agencies and flag any irregularities of government entities. 

Citing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the lockdown measures imposed by the government to contain its spread, the OAG has said that it could still take two more weeks for the supreme audit institution to come up with the report.

Though the OAG was scheduled to submit its report by mid-April, the Office could not compile and analyze the reports received from its provincial offices and teams mobilized from the federal office. 

“Initially, the report was scheduled to be submitted to the President by Chaitra as we have been doing annually. However, the lockdown has hampered our operation and working calendar,” said Assistant Auditor General Maheshwor Kaphle. 

“We are operating with our one-third workforce due to the ongoing lockdown that has limited the movement of the staff. Yet, the plan is to complete it within 10 to 15 days and present it to the president after the lockdown is lifted,” he added.

The OAG’s 57th annual report will be based on the audit of the financial transactions of over 6,000 government institutions and offices in the last fiscal year 2018/19.

However, the upcoming report will not cover possible irregularities related to the procurement of medical supplies made to deal with the COVID-19 in the current fiscal year, according to officials at the OAG.

Through the audit of the transactions of government entities, local bodies and other agencies with the government investment, the OAG report identifies and exposes irregularities as well as weaknesses in complying with existing laws, internal control arrangements and other standards.

The report also provides recommendations to help in maintaining fiscal discipline in public administration.   

In its periodic report last year, the OAG had identified Rs 106.34 billion in irregularities of the federal government entities out of the total transaction amount of Rs 2.88 trillion that it had audited. Similarly, the supreme audit institution had flagged irregularities worth Rs 195 million in transactions of seven provinces out of the total audited amount of Rs 2.62 billion. It had also found a total of Rs 24.14 billion in irregularity in 747 local governments that it had carried out an audit of.

Irregularity is defined as a financial transaction carried out without fulfilling any requirement in accordance with the prevailing laws or the account has not been maintained or a transaction carried out in a irregular or unreasonable manner. 

But, public finance management experts say that not all irregularities imply corruption or bribery as some of the irregularities could appear due to lack of documents or missing evidence or advances that have not been settled by the time the audit is carried out.

The OAG classifies such irregularities into recoverable, to be regularized, evidence or document not submitted, balance not brought forward, reimbursement not received and outstanding advances.


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