THE Public Accounts Standing Committee (PAC) is considering the common audit issues arose during the audit conducted on Government Ministries, Departments and Agency (MDA) in the financial year 2015/2016.

It will also provide recommendations on ways forward for MDA’s compliance.

The Auditor General’s Office Annual report 2015/2016 was approved by Parliament and PAC to take action and recommendation on common audit issues.

Some of them are compliance audit and internal control issues.

Compliance audit issues include the fixed assets registered which was not in compliance with Treasury Instructions. Among other issues include no update on fixed asset registered, log books not completely recorded and kept as complying with Treasury instructions. Reconciliation of vote with Sub Treasury was not carried out.

The audit internal control issues include late banking, not updated the revenue registered and, allowing credit sales. Deposited bond money, no MDA’s action to recover outstanding arrears and no revenue registered among other issues.

Tongatapu 5 MP Dr. ‘Aisake Eke raised in Parliament the need for Government to address these issues and to ensure it’s not repeated in the next financial year.
Eke said the outstanding revenue areas as among the major issues arose during the normal audit of the MDA’s totaled at over TOP$733,000.00. The Civil Aviation of the Ministry of Infrastructure (MOI) leads with$448,877.00 . Dr. Eke also noted a big drop in comparing the 2015/2016 level with the previous year.

The former Finance and National Planning Minister also noted a separate bank account held by the Ministry of Justice but it has been transferred back into the public fund account.

In compliance with the procurement process is another area of concern raised in the audit report. Also the improper procurement the disbursement.

The audit also noted an allegedly fraudulent conversion of public money within the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry and Nutrition.

No job card, work plan for major projects and pawn of Government asset was also reported in MOI’s office in Vava’u.

Alarmingly Dr. Eke also noted an advance allowance payment to the chairman and some board members of the Tonga Water Board in 2014. The advance payment of allowance was recorded in August 2014 up to November. The audit report stated they have reviewed the policy manual of the board and noted there is no provisions for advance payment of board allowance. No other regulations allowed advance payments.

The former Cabinet Minister also highlighted the need to pay special attention to external auditing of some public enterprises. This is with direct reference to the Tonga Post Limited and Tonga Assets Management and Associate Limited (TAMAL). Non-compliance with the international standards on auditing is the conclusion made by audit review of these two enterprises.

Dr. Eke said it was noted the external auditors are inexperienced. Therefore, all public enterprises audits’ report should be submitted to Parliament annually.
Despite all this, he noted that the Auditor General has no executive power to force MDA’s to implement audit recommendations. Therefore the consideration and action on audit findings and recommendations are matters for management discretion of individual MDA’s.

Dr. Eke also noted performance audit an area of concern. The Performance Audit Division was established in 2012. Since its establishment, it has been unable to complete any of the target Performance Audit Reports set out. This is due to inexperience and very little knowledge on how to execute performance audit among the staff of the Division,

Hence, Dr. Eke recommended further assistance should be provided for the Audit’s Office so performance audit is made possible.

Meanwhile the Hon. Minister of Police Mateni Tapueluelu thanked the Auditor’s Report for the report and called for Cabinet’s action to deal with the serious matter. He said the major issues raised in the audit report are not minor errors but it is corruption. Hence he said this should be dealt with accordingly.

The Hon. Minister of Health, Saia Piukala moved the report and said the Government, including Ministers will take action on the audit report.

At the same time the Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Forestry shared he had a meeting with the CEO to address the issue.

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