Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Auditor identifies UTG’s ‘insecure’ financial dealings


Photo Credit: Helleman News

An auditor of the National Audit Office, Baba F. Drammeh, has identified ‘shocking’ financial irregularities at the University of The Gambia. 
 
Drammeh said the UTG officials have carried out payments whose vouchers are without adequate documentation, payments without recipients’ signature, procurement without competitive bidding and leave encashment that amounted to D4, 554, 083.28 (over US$ 119, 844).

In a breakdown, he noted that payment vouchers not signed by approving officer amount to D171, 955, payment vouchers lacking adequate documentation is D1, 458, 732, overseas travel allowance at D421, 078.78, payment without recipients signature D134, 180, procurement without competitive bidding D2, 272, 843.50 and leave encashment at D95, 294.
 
Though he noted that audit details found that that are governing council and university senate meetings, he said there is weak internal audit control, non-presented payment vouchers and payment voucher not signed by approving officer.

Bai Matarr Drammeh, a Member of UTG Governing Council, said some of the issues raised by the auditors are sensational due to lack of information.

But his claim has been contested by Karamba Touray, the Auditor General, who said the audit was conducted independently and with impartiality.

Disappointed

The joint Public Accounts and Public Enterprises committees (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly which examined the UTG’s 2011/2012 activity and financial report on Tuesday February 11 – expresses “disappointment.”

“I am disappointed with the type of report before us, with the caliber of people involved,” Hon Bafaye Saidykhan, Member for Jarra East says. He urges the UTG staff to cut overseas travels which he said are prepared without evidence. 

He added: “The report indicates that the UTG is run by groups of people and individuals.
“To be frank, I am disappointed. We do not expect such irregularities to come from the UTG, a training Centre for the future of the country. The hope we have for UTG is fading.

“Payment vouchers that are not signed by the recipients are an insult to the accounts department.” 

Serious problem 

Hon. Lamin K. Jammeh, Member for Illiassa, has said “the University of The Gambia (UTG) has a serious problem that needs urgent attention.”

“We don’t encourage bulky audit quarries and we urge the UTG management to pay attention to that,” he said.

Jammeh said the last year’s cumulative difference of D5 million is not highlighted in the report. The PAC/PEC wants evidence to show that it has been dealt with. Hon. Jammeh said that PAC/PEC expect that come next year the UTG will come up with accurate accounts and lesser audit queries.

Hon. Alhagie Sillah, member for Banjul North, said there is no perfect system but the audit queries should be reasonable.

Hon. Netty Baldeh, member for Tumana, said the UTG is an entity that benefit from public funds and should be held accountable to the public.

Use public funds judiciously 

“We are very passionate about the UTG. We want to make sure you use the public funds judiciously and I am disappointed by your financial outcomes that cannot be explained,” he said.

Kwadwo Ofsuhene, UTG Finance Director, said during the audit process, auditors were given all necessary information they need to conduct their work. He said the auditors found 23 priorities high and 3 priorities medium.

Ibrahim Sanyang, Senior Procurement Officer at Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA), said during their review for 2011-2012 they found UTG mainly compliant with procurement procedures.

Not perfect

Professor Muhammadou M.O Kah, Vice Chancellor of UTG, pleaded with the PAC/PEC to understand that the UTG is a young university and they are striving hard to perfect the situation.He said the UTG is neither a perfect institution nor is he a perfect Vice Chancellor. 

 “We are not a perfect institution nor am I a perfect Vice Chancellor but one thing I can assure this honorable body [PAC/PEC] is that we at the University of The Gambia take our assignment very seriously,” Professor Kah said.  

He said they have taken note and embraced the assignments that were given by auditors to look into the queries and concerns raised by the PAC/PEC.

Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, Speaker of the National Assembly, said the UTG is a constituency to the parliament and assured them of PAC/PEC support at all times. He urged them to re-double in their shortcomings.
“We are committed to the cause of the UTG because it represents all Gambians,” he said.

Nonetheless, the UTG activity report for 2011-2012 was adopted by the PAC/PEC.


Written by Modou S. Joof


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