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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

9 Months On: Irregularities persist at University of The Gambia


Drug Enforcement Agents Foday Barry and Pa Habib Mbye authored a damning report in 2012 which indicted as “corrupt” the Vice Chancellor of the University of The Gambia (UTG), Prof. Muhammadou Kah (Photo: The Daily News)


Nine months after a damning report indicted the current Vice Chancellor of the University of The Gambia (UTG), Prof Muhammadou Kah, on "corruption", issues of irregularities resurfaces.

Last week, the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises committees (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly expresses deep concerns with the financial report of the UTG.

The committees noticed gross irregularities and mismatched financial breakdown when they scrutinised the UTG's annual financial statement (2011 to 2012) and subsequently decided a rework on the report and to account for other financial expenditure.

The National Assembly said they have noticed some “unclear issues” in the audit report.

Speaker Hon Abdoulie Bojang observed the auditors qualified the financial statement of the University on the basis of two major matters: “One, the cumulative difference of D5 million exists between the adjusted cashbook balance and the bank balances as at 31st December 2011.

“The auditors were not able to obtain adequate evidence to resolve the difference.

“Two, is that the auditors could not ascertain the valuation and completeness of property, plant and equipment amounting to D52.01 million.”

"Out of 29 bank accounts held by the University, only two were reconciled and even for the two accounts, the review and follow-up on the reconciliation was grossly inadequate," Bojang observed.

Speaker Bojang said the University does not maintain a fixed asset register, and consequently there was no audit trail to assess the reasonableness of depreciation charge of D9.01 million.

He also said the joint committees are deeply concern that the Management letter in the financial report raised “major matters” such as non-preparation of a bank reconciliation by the University.

Out of 29 bank accounts held by the University, only two were reconciled and even for the two accounts, the review and follow-up on the reconciliation was grossly inadequate, Bojang observed.

He stressed that the numerous bank accounts, the absence of regular reconciliation by the University which they believe is adequately staffed with local and international staff, leave the joint committees with serious doubts and concerns as to how such a situation can be allowed to happen.

He noted that weak budgetary controls were highlighted by the auditors under the university budgetary control system and it is almost impossible to compare budget with actual performance.

“The university lacks a fully functional financial management system, the level of errors and omissions were numerous and segregation of duties within the finance department was not appropriate,” Speaker Bojang said.

According to him, per diem and related payments were not clarified, inconsistent and staff already sponsored partly applied for full per-diem payments and the payment did not pass through the Internal Audit Unit for necessary verification.

Speaker Bojang further said some per-diem payments were not supported with evidence of invitations and purpose of travel. He also said the human resource department does not keep proper records of all university staff.

“Regular reconciliations to provide assurance on the completeness of revenue were not done and the number of registered students for 2011 could not be readily established by the auditors.

“The Internal Audit Unit with only one staff reporting to the Vice Chancellor is inadequate in terms of his or her independence and operational effectiveness,” he said.

“The above matters individually and together are grave by any measure further excoriate by the absence of regular Governing Council meetings and Senate meetings required by the UTG Act 1999,” he added.

The joint committees find it appropriate that the deliberation of the financial statement of the UTG be deferred until September 2013 to give enough time for the auditors to further investigative these concerns, Hon. Bojang said.

“The university lacks a fully functional financial management system, the level of errors and omissions were numerous and segregation of duties within the finance department was not appropriate,” Speaker Bojang said.

He said the Committees calls on the auditor general to carry out a “special audit” on the major areas of concern and the report should be tabled along with the audited financial statements of the UTG.

“This special audit will allow the joint committees to be better informed of the detailed nature and extent of the matters raised for appropriate conclusions and recommendations to be made by the committees,” he said.

Speaker Bojang urged the UTG to provide additional information on the status of the implementation of previous PAC/PEC recommendations for The Gambia College.

We expect a speedy implementation of all previous recommendations, he stressed.

“Finally, clerk of the National Assembly shall convey these concern in writing to the Vice Chancellor, the Auditor General, the Secretary General and Head of Civil Service and the Minister for Higher Education,” the Speaker concluded.

Written by Modou S. Joof


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