PNG DUMPS CRITICAL AUDITOR-GENERAL

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 15) - Auditor-General Mark Wani was found guilty of misconduct in office and sacked yesterday - four days before his six-year term was to expire.

As Mr Wani was being dismissed at the National Court building at Waigani, several hundred meters away, Parliament was taking note of the Auditor-General's 2001 report on spending by the National Government and the provinces.

The Leadership Tribunal found Mr Wani guilty of all 33 misconduct charges involving financial allowances.

Justice Nicholas Kirriwom said public interest and public good dictate that Mr Wani be dismissed from public office for three years.

In his 2001 report, Mr Wani was critical of provincial government spending and complained that his office lacked funding and manpower.

He also highlighted shortcomings in provincial treasuries, among others. Singled out for special mention were West New Britain, Gulf, West Sepik (Sandaun) and the Fly River (Western) provincial governments.

In his 2001 report tabled in Parliament yesterday, Wani said that after auditing their books, he was unable to form an opinion that their financial statements complied with the Public Finances (Management) Act that governs receipt and payment and investment of public money by public institutions and servants.

The audit found serious discrepancies in the 1996 accounts for West New Britain, Gulf and West Sepik provincial governments, and the 1998 account for the Fly River provincial government.

In the case of West New Britain’s account, the audit found among others, that the set of financial statements submitted by the provincial government was incomplete, trust accounts were not available for examination, and statements on advances were not properly compiled.

For example, the report found that the provincial ledgers showed only K648,318 spend on works program. However, the audit revealed an actual amount of K2.98 million. "These discrepancy remains unresolved," the report says. 

While the West New Britain government says it expended K963,500 in grant payments, the audit examination found that the true figure was K3,586,978 to various individuals and organisations.

"All these grant payments could not be effectively examined for their proper utilisation for intended purposes due to non-availability of accountability statements from the recipients, or copies of reports from the internal auditors of the provincial government of any regular checks being carried out during the year."

Commenting on the accounts for Gulf province, the Auditor-General said: "Examination of the financial statements furnished revealed that the accounts were not properly kept and financial statements were prepared without agreement with the underlying accounts and records."

He said the computer cashbook maintained by the provincial government was incomplete. The provincial government did not maintain a proper cashbook till the end of the year. Further, the ledgers were also incomplete and bank reconciliation was not carried out except for the month of Dec 1996. Bank statements and other records were not made available. 

For West Sepik, the Auditor-General said national grants show K18 million but audit found K2.9 million in revenue ledgers and K9.29 million as direct grants through the bank account.

Also expenditure incurred under one vote did not agree with revenue ledger balances on 20 expenditure vote items and showed a difference of K10.47 million.

Details of advances for years 1986 to 1994 were not available.

Grant payments to various organizations and persons totalled K356,400 and K18,301,800 respectively however, expenditure ledgers revealed K145,413 and K7,134,697. The latter included K2,040,906 in relation to Rural Action Program. 

"All grant payments could not be effectively examined for their proper utilization for intended purposes due to non-availability of statements either from the recipients or from the officers of the provincial government who oversaw the payments," the Auditor-General said.

January 15, 2004

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

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