Saturday, June 15, 2024

Auditor General places parliament’s action in question!


The Federal Auditor General claims parliament didn’t act as expected regarding ‘huge audit gaps’.
On a press conference held on Friday, June 30, 2023, Meseret Damte, head of the office, indicated that even though the number of complaints about audit reports was decreasing from time to time, the audit gap was equally increasing in parallel.
As Meseret highlights, “The country continues to experience significant financial losses in the form of uncollected revenues, cash deficits, unaccounted and illicit expenses, financial irregularities, and illegal purchases without following rules.”
As indicated in the press conference, the Auditor General said that the amount overdue by the federal government offices that have not been collected in the 2021/22 fiscal year from the financial audit carried out in 131 federal offices reached 15.12 billion birr and was categorized in the “uncollected” account. The auditor-general mentioned that this amount was nine billion birr in the 2020–21 fiscal year.
As cited, in the 2021/22 fiscal year, 1.56 billion birr of expenditure beyond the allocated budget and a 1.3 billion birr cash deficit have been registered.
“This amount is huge when it comes to our economy and has to be collected. This revelation has raised serious concerns about financial management and the accountability in the country,” alarmed the Auditor General.
As she indicated, her office has conducted an investigation to ensure that action has been taken on the deficiencies found in the audit reports conducted in the 2020–21 fiscal year and before. As indicated in her report to parliament on June 27, 2023, only 0.65 percent of the 6.88 billion birr that was recommended for refunds in the 2020/21 fiscal year and before was refunded.
“The reports issued by the auditor general serve as a testament to the alarming extent of the budget gap. I don’t think that members of parliament understand that they are obliged to follow up on the financial performances and take the appropriate measurement,” Meseret alerted.
The Auditor General called on members of parliament as well as the standing committees to understand their responsibilities, see audit reports of government institutions, and follow up on their performance.
“The power and function of our office are to audit all the institutions that it has planned and to report the findings to the House of Representatives,” she emphasized on the pivotal role of her office.
As she explains, the office follows the “Westminster” audit system model, which is implemented by countries that follow a parliamentary system, and its authority and responsibility is to submit reports to the House of Representatives based on the findings of the various audits it has conducted on various institutions.
Also, as Meseret indicated in the year 2021/22, her office was not unable to do six institutional audit reports, including security organizations limited by the establishment regulation of the organizations, “We believe that these security organizations should also be audited as they are using tax payer’s money and it can be kept in secret if need be. If we see other countries experiences; they acknowledge being audited but it will only be presented to the respective stakeholder.”
Additionally, 19 institutions were found to have significant problems and were given objectionable comments.
The Auditor General by way of role management is required by law to examine and report annually to parliament on the accounts of Ministries, Departments, Regional Health Authorities, Regional Corporations and such State Controlled Enterprises and Statutory Boards for which the Auditor General is the statutory auditor.

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