‘Clean opinions do not clear financial mess’

DODOMA: CONTROLLER and Auditor General (CAG) Mr Charles Kichere and Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAAC) Chairperson Ms Halima Mdee have cautioned government entities that receiving unqualified opinions in audit reports doesn’t mean that they are perfect in financial management.

The Head of the National Audit Office and the leader of the Parliamentary watchdog committee sounded the warning yesterday in Dodoma after the government tabled the 2022/2023 Government Audited Reports in Parliament.

Mr Kichere said it is unfortunate for the general public and the government entities to think that an unqualified opinion awarded after the auditing process clears the respective organisations from mishandled financial matters.

He said unqualified opinion awarded only signifies that the respective entity has followed the standard procedures in preparing its financial reports.

Giving an example, Mr Kichere said a government entity may end up receiving unqualified opinion in the audited report despite being found to have paid 200bn/- in extra cost for a particular project after delaying payment to the contractor or service provider, a financial practice that occurs after failing to honor the contract signed.

The problem prompted the CAG office to write management letters to audited institutions after completion of auditing procedures.

In auditing profession, a management letter is a letter prepared by the auditor which discusses findings and recommendations for improvements in internal control that are identified during the audit and are not required to be included in the auditor’s report on internal control, and other management issues.

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He said there is a pressing need for offering education to all key players in financial matters in public sector to improve financial prudence in public spending.

Measures instituted against individuals

Speaking on measures instituted against individuals found to have been involved in financial malpractices, Mr Kichere said the government has its own ways of dealing with such individuals, adding that his office cannot work as a police, a prosecutor or a judge.

However, he said he is happy to see some measures or actions being taken against the culprits. In his remarks, the CAG highlighted significant improvements for the 21 Government Audit Reports for 2022/2023 fiscal year, saying out of 1,209 individual statements audited, over 99 per cent received unqualified opinions, indicating satisfactory compliance with financial procedures and regulations.

During the presentation, Mr Kichere said the CAG office worked on a total of 1,209 financial statements for 2022/2023 financial year.

Ms Mdee, on her part, voiced concern, saying despite an improvement in unqualified reports in government audited reports, value for money in public spending, especially in development projects in still a problem in local government authorities.

According to Ms Mdee, there is a pressing need to institute drastic measures against public officials, especially in district councils, who engage in financial malpractices instead of relocating them to other areas.

“It is not healthy to transfer a District Executive Director from one council to another after finding him guilty of performing badly in one place, “she insisted.

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