MARSHALL ISLANDS GOVERNMENT SHOULD

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EDITORIAL

 

Marshall Islands Journal Majuro, Marshall Islands

August 24, 2001

TAKE ACTION REGARDING BAD AUDIT REPORTS

The RMI’s annual fiscal year 2000 audit isn’t any worse than previous years and may, in fact, have been an improvement over past years in terms of an overall reduction in questioned costs and the number of agencies that is unauditable.

But the real issue is what is going to happen as a result of the deficiencies identified by the RMI auditor in the latest audit?

For example, every year since 1993, RMI embassies have not accounted properly for the money they receive in petty cash funds. The amount was $298,700 a year ago – multiply that number by eight years and we’re talking a very substantial amount of money that isn’t accounted for. If the embassies couldn’t account for their next draw down of money until they provided an accounting of how the money was used they would hurry up and bring their records up-to-date. Are the Ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs going to clean up this problem?

What about the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority? With the tuna transshipment and fisheries licensing, it’s handling millions of dollars in revenue. If its books can’t be audited, MIMRA shouldn’t be handling government money.

Ditto the RMI Scholarship board: it’s handing out $797,000 in U.S.-provided funding annually to students, as well as other funds.

Why can’t these and others get their books into shape to be audited? The Marshall Islands Social Security Administration sorted itself out with a three-year audit, catching a few problems in the process.

Perhaps this is an area in which the Nitijela’s Public Accounts Committee could play a role in applying pressure – and some needed public scrutiny – to the government’s administration as well as the individual agencies to get them on track financially.

The goal is simple: For fiscal year 2001 (which ends September 30) every government ministry and agency should be auditable. It would be a first for the RMI, produce an unprecedented audit that for once would be unqualified, and go a long way to showing Marshall Islands taxpayers and foreign donors that the country is putting its money where its mouth is on accountability.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: journal@ntamar.com  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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