Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Finance Ministry, Central Bank Violates Regulation Act

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) have been known to have violated Section 229 of the Financial Instruction Regulation Act, The Voice Newspaper can reveal.
The Act, approved by the National Assembly of The Gambia to regulate government financial practice, stated in Section 229 that “Government bank account must not be overdrawn”.
However, a recent Report, presented by the Permanent Secretary (1) at the Ministry of Finance Mr. Mod Secka, indicated that the statement of cash and bank balances in the financial statements shows that the government had 27 overdrawn bank accounts on 31st December 2005 totaling D415 million and 22 overdrawn accounts on 31st December 2006 totaling D153 million.

Recently, Mr. Secka presented The Gambia Government’s Financial Statements for the years ended 31st December 2005/06 respectively, before members of the Public Account/Public Enterprise Committee of the National Assembly for it to be considered and adopted.
Incidents of material fraud during 2005/06
Mr. Secka disclosed that lapses in financial control have resulted in the loss of government funds through error and fraud. He stress that some material frauds occurred in 2006 which have not been brought to the attention of the National Assembly and elsewhere in these same financial statements.
“In the interest of transparency, I disclosed them before the Committee with the legal status of each case,” he said, noting that the departments or institutions involved include Treasury Directorate, Curator of the Intestate, Department of State for Justice, Commissioner’s Office Kerewan, and Commissioner’s Office Janjanbureh.
According to him, some of the fraudsters are facing prosecution, others convicted and others have not been charged.   
Unsupported payments made through CBG
Mr. Secka noted that the Treasury Directorate’s bank reconciliations show payments of D14, 956, 581 and D16, 317 821 which have not been included in the financial statements for 2005 and 2006 respectively, but appear as reconciling items on their bank reconciliations.
He stressed that had the Treasury Directorate been performing reconciliations on a monthly basis, they could have approached the CBG to resolve the status of these transactions. However, he said the directorate of treasury stated that they were unable to trace transactions through their accounting system if the only information they have is a cheque number.
Therefore they are not in a position to disprove the CBG’s claims that the amounts involved were government expenditure. “This is of great concern as it highlights inadequacies in the internal controls and audit trail,” he stressed. “In the absence of any confirmation from the Directorate of Treasury and his inability to perform any appropriate procedures given the absence of information, I am not able to confirm whether the payments of D14, 956, 581 and D16, 317, 821 were genuine or have been paid in error or to defraud the government.”
According to him, no criminal proceedings have been brought against the fraud saga at the Commissioner’s Office in Kerewan were an unaccounted revenue of D2, 132,328 was discovered and the Commissioner’s Office in Janjanbureh were also an unaccounted revenue of D520, 936 fraud was also discovered during the year 2005/06 the respectively.
He noted that criminal action will soon be brought against these two offices. The report was also adopted by the PAC/PEC Committees.

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