Isles CAG queries transactions of 446.3bn/-

ZANZIBAR ministries, departments and agencies misappropriated almost a quarter of the 1.845tri/- national budget for the 2021/2022 fiscal year, with the ministry of water, energy and mineral getting an adverse audit opinion.

The adverse opinion indicates material irregularities and, in the auditing language, tells that financial statements of the auditee contain gross misstatements and have potential for fraud.

Minister of State, President’s Office, Constitution, Legal, Public Service and Good Governance, Haroun Ali Suleiman, told the House of Representatives on Wednesday that the CAG audit for the 2021/2022 financial year has raised queries over various public transactions, which involved 446.3bn/-, which is over 24 per cent of the year’s total budget.

The CAG faulted lack of satisfactory explanations on the 415bn/- unspent balance in the consolidated fund’s integrated account; failure by 10 public institutions to report 9.6bn/- revenues in closure of their financial statements; non-submission of withholding tax of 24,453 US dollars (about 57m/-); and unreported expenditure of 1.79bn/- in closure of financial accounts of some institutions.

Other issues that have raised eyebrows in public spending include payment of 595m/- to suppliers without registration with the Zanzibar Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (ZPPDA); irregular payment of 4.66bn/-; payment of 11.74bn/- by public institution against the contract prescriptions; and loss of 230m/- and 103,817 US dollars due to lack of safety and control of revenue collection systems.

Zanzibar Higher Education Loans Board has failed to recover educational loans of 2.43bn/- from beneficiaries who graduated over eight years ago, the problem that the CAG attributes to issuance of loans to ghost students whose whereabouts nor their guarantors’ can be traced.

Tabling seven CAG reports in the house, Minister Haroun however said financial discipline in the public sector has relatively improved, with over 91 per cent of public institutions receiving unqualified audit reports.

The minister explained that 91.25 per cent of the 160 institutions, whose financial accounts for the 2021/2022 fiscal year were audited, received clean reports.

But, the country’s chief overseer of public spending issued a disclaimer opinion to Zanzibar Maritime Authority (ZMA). Through the disclaimer, the auditors distance themselves from giving any opinion due to, among others, failure to get satisfactory explanations on their questions during the audit assignment.

“I wish to urge all accounting officers in public institutions to tighten control and enhance discipline in the use of public resources,” the minister said, adding that 12 or 7.5 per cent of all auditees during the year received qualified opinions.

President’s Office, Finance and Planning; Mnazi Mmoja Referral Hospital; Agriculture, Irrigation, Natural Resources and Livestock Ministry; Infrastructure, Communications and Transport Ministry; and Zanzibar AIDS Commission are the central government’s institutions that have received the qualified audit reports.

Autonomous institutions with qualified opinions are Zanzibar Electricity Corporation; Zanzibar Ports Corporation; Zanzibar Insurance Corporation; Zanzibar Airports Authority; and Zanzibar Civil Status Registration Agency.

Zanzibar Anti-Smuggling Unit (KMKM) and Urban Municipal Council have qualified opinions under the regional administration and local government authority category.

Under categorisation, the central government had 54 out of its 61 auditees or 88.5 per cent, receiving clean reports; while six and one auditee received qualified and adverse opinion, respectively. Out of the 41 audited autonomous public agencies, 35 or 85.4 per cent of them received clean reports while five and one auditee received qualified and disclaimer opinions, respectively.

Regional administration, local government and special departments performed relatively well, with 42 or 95.45 per cent of the audited 44 institutions receiving clean reports. Only two institutions received qualified opinions. Development projects scored the highest 100 per cent, with all the audited 14 projects receiving clean reports.

The audit reports, which Minister Haroun tabled are on central government; regional administration, local governments and special departments; public corporations and autonomous agencies; constituency development fund and ward development projects; information, communication and technology systems; development projects under the funding of Zanzibar government and development partners; and performance audit in educational sector.

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