By MUHAMMED S. BAH
The law makers on Wednesday 21, September 2016, following their scrutiny of the reports presented to them by the Auditor General and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, have finally adopted the 2011 PAC-PEC Report on Government Audited Accounts and the Accountant General’s Government Audited Financial Accounts 2012/2013.
The session held at the National Assembly building in Banjul was attended by officials from the ministry of finance led by Mr. Abdou Kolley, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, and officials from the National Audit Office (NAO) headed by Mr. Karamaba Touray, the Auditor General.
National Assembly members, before adopting the reports, asked questions and also requested for clarifications on some while the subject matter specialists retained by the Assembly made some recommendations for the finance ministry to improve on its management of the finances of the country based on the queries and recommendations in the reports presented.
Hon. Ousman Njie raised some issues on payment vouchers and non-presentation of documents for audit verification vis a vis the auditors queries and the management responses.
Hon. Lamin Jammeh advised that they should not come to them with what he referred to as “qualified accounts” which, he said, are frowned upon by them the law makers.
He cited the 2011 recommendations which, he said, identified two key challenges that are not yet addressed and these are the commandeering of NAO vehicles, as alluded to by the Auditor General, and the introduction of budget items for special audit assignments by the auditor general from the office of the president and or the National Assembly.
Hon. Alagie Sillah spoke about the problems of loan recovery and the need for the ministry of finance to have a maintenance policy to avoid maintenance problems.
Ho. Samba Bah, the Minority Leader, called for the proper management of public funds with the proper monitoring of payment and accounting systems.
Responding to the concerns raised by NAMS, Mr. Lamin Camara, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, said there are lot of efforts being made on the issue of interest on outstanding balances, adding that they have now seen the figures at the time coming down.
“We have started with the ministry of finance and the accountant general to ensure that the story we are seeing on the accounts will be a thing of the past,” said PS Camara.
He also gave some responses as clarifications on issues raised by NAMs and further noted some of the recommendations will be taken on board.
Mr. Abdou Colley, the Minister of Finance, for his part, said “It is very difficult for sectors to say they will have zero arrears on debt. We are working hard to minimise the accumulation of arrears on debt.”
He added that it will not be easy for them to say they will eliminate debts arrears in all the budget lines.
The subject matter specialist, for his part, advised the ministry to be having constant engagements with the Auditor General’s office to do some audit clarification before coming to the National Assembly. This recommendation was noted by the ministry of finance officials.