Irate MPs demand top officials to face House, PM over audit findings
Members of Parliament (MPs) have expressed their distaste over the audit reports presented by the Federal Auditor General. The report revealed that no improvements have been made year after year. In that regard, MPs demanded a special hearing session with each top official of the federal budget recipient organizations, to face the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) in the presence of the Prime Minster.
This call from legislators was made during Thursday’s regular session whereby MPs heard the Auditor General’s audit report – which was said to have audited 174 federal organizations – on their financial utilization and performances during the fiscal year of 2017/18.
According to the audit findings presented by Gemech Dubiso, Auditor General, almost all of the budgets recipient institutions did not implement the legislative body’s “urgent instructions” to settle their unaccounted multi-billion birr finances.
Led by the current House Speaker, Tagesse Chaffo, the House, in March this year, instructed all of the federal intuitions to collect their finances which have been unaccounted for years, before the end of this fiscal year. At that time, the leaders of various institutions were told to collect some two billion birr which was left uncollected.
According the Gemechu, so far, only five institutions have settled their finances as per the instruction, while the remaining majority failed to do so. The report disclosed that those majority organizations rather claim to have set a plan to collect the unaccounted finances for the upcoming budget year.
It was this report that sparked anger and irritation among MPs, stating that they were sick and tired of the same failures and the same excuses given by the institutions year after year.
The report has found out an unaccounted and inappropriate expenditure worth a sum of 4.2 billion birr by 129 of the audited institutions.
Out of the stated total amount, some 763 million birr is unaccounted for in a period of one year, while 2.3 billion birr has taken more than five years, due to failures to provide appropriate documents in how and why it was spent.
Furthermore, Gemechu told the House that the audit has identified more than 430 million birr budget spent by organizations, but does not know which budget year it was spent in.
Presenting his annual audit report to the House, Gemechu said that a total of over one billion birr worth of illegal procurements were made by several government offices during the budget year.
This type of report is not new for the Auditor General who has been presenting a similar report for almost a decade in a row. During the previous year, the sum of money through illegal procurement and expenditures, unaccounted and uncollected revenues reached 20 billion birr.
In addition, the report revealed that 53 government offices and four branch offices had a 531 million birr unaccounted and illegal expenses. Of which, 312 million birr was spent from the regular budget, whereas 208 million birr was embezzled from the capital budget. A sum of 3.6 billion birr receivables which was supposed to be collected before the end of the budget year is also not collected.
“Due to mismanagement of the government's budget, huge infrastructure projects have not been completed in a timely manner,” the Auditor General stressed, adding, “Over 246 million birr was wasted on 16 projects which were launched without feasibility studies.”
Gemechu said that several state run universities were at the forefront in presenting wrong reports and 67 - 85 percent of their purchases were not done properly.
Furthermore, the report has revealed other financial mismanagements and irregularities of account documentations in several institutions of the federal government and a breach of the budget proclamation by several institutions.
Gemechu hopes that the law enforcement activities underway by the new Attorney General, Berhanu Tsegaye, against unaccounted and illegal expenses as well as uncollected revenues, will be bearing fruits.
MPs, with their patience pushed to the limit, are pushing the government to take an immediate action through the Attorney General rather than giving further time for public institutions to improve their financial embezzlement and project implementations, especially in mega projects.