The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has sharply reacted to the recent audit report from the General Auditing Commission (GAC) on the Ministry.
MFDP said the Commission “chose the path to the style of the sensational rather than an objective and professional reporting.”
According to the Ministry, this way of doing things has now become the standard practice of the GAC.
GAC in its audit reported by some media outlets, accused the MFDP Minister Amara Konneh and his Comptroller and Accountant General of not providing supporting documentations for some transactions.
“We noted during the audit that out of the total selected sample of US$4,123 payment transactions, the Comptroller and Accountant General did not provide supporting documents for US$3,419 payment transactions for various components in the financial statements amounting to US$209,790,651.04,” GAC report said.
The GAC audit report, which contains this statement, is the Special Procurement Audit Report of the Ministry of Public Works and the Audit Report of the Consolidated Financial Statement of the government for the Fiscal Year 2012/13.
The Ministry said while it views the GAC reports as being “critical to our collective determination to improve the public financial management system of the government, our attention has been drawn to a number of conclusions derived from the report and reported on by the media to the effect that public resources have either been unaccounted for or abused. These very disturbing insinuations could and should have been prevented had the Commission acted reasonably in incorporating some of the pertinent clarifications provided by the MFDP.”
However, MFDP said it remained committed to implementing the recommendations of the audit exercise and has, as a matter of policy, begun instituting some of the recommendations as contained in the Auditor General’s report.
The Ministry also charged that for the GAC’s audits to be seen as credible, “the basis for institutional improvements, handling of the audit process has to be treated with the outmost degree of professionalism, mutual respect and good faith for system improvement.”
“In this respect, the MFDP wishes to register for the record, a number of issues raised in the audit report that are not only questionable and in some instances laughable, but creates a misleading impression that either public resources have been squandered or the public trust compromised.”
Included in its response, the Ministry listed four areas, including audit integrity, material issues with Public Works Audit, material issues with audit report of the Consolidated Financial Statement and ancillary issues, which it said need clarification because of some of the confusing conclusions stemming from the Auditor General’s report.
The Ministry’s press release is published in detail on pages eight and nine of today’s edition.
One internal auditor, a public financial analyst, who asked to remain anonymous, rhetorically asked when contacted for his opinion on the audit, “Why should everyone have problems with the GAC audit reports? It needs to look at the ways, methods and procedures of its material gathering.” He, however, noted that it is also a human tendency to “cry wolf.”