This is my second annual report presented to the National Assembly two months earlier than the statutory ‘December’ deadline. This has been done in response to a request for timely reports from various stakeholders including the National Assembly and the government. More efforts are continuing to reduce the time taken to produce annual reports even further and, hopefully, to present them at the end of September each year. With this in mind, the twelve-month audit cycle has been realigned to run from September to August.
Included in this report are the results of my audit of the Annual Financial Statements (AFS) of the Government for 2017 and various other audits undertaken in ministries, departments, officers and Agencies (statutory bodies) subject to my audit. These audits were completed during the audit cycle from September 2017 to August 2018, in other words since the issuance of my report for 2016. The report excludes the matters raised in the performance audit report on SPTC and a number of special audit reports presented to the National Assembly at the request of FPAC since the last annual report. The matters included in this report are selective as they are the matters being brought to the attention of the National Assembly as per my reporting requirements. I am pleased to note that many matters raised in audit management letters issued to Accounting Officers throughout the audit cycle have been dealt with satisfactorily.
The purpose of this report is to:
(a) draw the attention of the National Assembly, Government and other decision makers to matters arising from carrying out my oversight role as the Auditor General;
(b) comment on various financial management and reporting, governance and administrative issues; and
(c) highlight some matters of recurring nature and make some observations on the action taken or planned on previous audit reports.
The AFS of Government are the pinnacle of the public sector financial reporting. My role is to provide assurance to the National Assembly that these statements properly presents the government’s financial activities and the financial position for the year to which they relate. I note that the AFS are not fully compliant with the requirements of the IPSAS reporting framework, hence the qualified audit opinion. Other issues affecting the AFS include delays in clearing remittance accounts relating to overseas Missions and dishonoured cheques and non-reconciliation of some revenue and expenditure accounts and outstanding advances balances. In addition, the challenge for the accounting and reporting on various grants-in-kind and government controlled bank accounts appear to be growing stronger each year.
Despite various challenges being faced, I believe that the Ministry of Finance needs to more to ensure that the AFS are produced timely to enable auditing of the same by the statutory deadline (30th June) and fully in accordance with IPSAS framework to receive a clean opinion. This report includes also my observations on some statutory bodies subject to my audit which have been receiving government’s financial support in terms of annual appropriations and/or other forms of assistance, such as, levies, income and grants. Their accountability arrangements, however, were found to be weak in that annual financial statements and annual reports were either not produced or produced randomly after significant delays and in poor quality. The statutory provisions relating to accounts and reporting, in many instances, were noted to be inconsistent and/or ambiguous so that the provisions were not enforceable. In a number of cases, there are no legal provisions requiring the statutory bodies to produce annual financial statements and annual reports and submit them to the National Assembly.