Failure of government offices to comply with requests to submit their audit accounts disrupts staff of the Auditor General’s office schedule to the point where there are times when they find themselves “idling for two to three weeks”, the Deputy Auditor General, Kealeboga Molelowatladi, has said.
He points out that the failure to comply is in spite of Section 124 of the Constitution of Botswana that requires the Auditor General to audit public accounts and officers, including the courts and other authorities of government, and then submit them to ministers who in turn will put them before the National Assembly.If not audited, these entities cannot submit their annual reports, which paints a bad and suspicious picture of them.
“We can’t issue an opinion when they don’t comply, “ says Molelowatladi. The challenges of preparing audits range from lack of accurate information, delays in valuation of assets, resignations or loss of key finance staff and poor reconciliation of payments.
Under normal circumstances, says Molelowatladi, entities that fail to comply request for extension of time from the relevant minister because they are often required to start afresh.
“We don’t want to be raising the same problems every year,” he emphasises, his temper rising as he takes the opportunity to appeal to parent ministries to push their departments and parastatals under their tutelage to work with speed.Botswana Guardian looks at some of the government offices that failed to comply for the financial year ended 31 March 2014.
For over three consecutive years, the national railway management has not submitted its accounts for audit. BR is required to submit its audit accounts within four months of the end of each financial year or within the extended period as the minister may direct. BR had sought and was granted an extension of time for the accounts of the just ended financial year. The draft accounts were submitted for audit last October. At the time of compiling the Auditor General’s report, the audit had not been concluded because of the on-going work on BR’s fixed assets register with a consultant. “The persistent delays are a matter of concern,” says Molelowatladi.
The University of Botswana
UB chose to provide a draft of its audit. The institution had not provided the Auditor General with a management letter, saying the auditors had not issued it pending finalisation of the accounts by the University Council. According to Molelowatladi, the UB Council was to meet by January to discuss issuing of the required management letter. Based on the draft accounts, UB recorded a deficit of P303 million in the previous year. Its income was P996.55 million while expenditure was P1 299.55 million. The working capital position of the university showed current assets of P1 276.42 and current liabilities of P354.14 million, giving a net current assets position of P922.28 million.
Botswana Postal Services
The organisation had sought and was granted an extension of time for the accounts of the previous year. It opted for draft accounts, and at the time of writing the Auditor General’s report, it was yet to be signed by the board pending finalisation of issues affecting the going concern status of the organisation following persistent losses in recent years. The loss in the year under review was P33.85 million, from P76.29 million in the previous year and P3.57 million in the year before.
Botswana International University of Science and Technology
The Auditor General Pulane Letebele reveals that in August last year, she addressed a communication to the then Vice Chancellor of BIUST Hilary Inyang who has since resigned under a dark cloud. In the communication, the Auditor General requested Inyang to submit the audited accounts and reports of the university for the year under review. “At the time of writing this report, I had not received those accounts and reports,” states Letebele. Molelowatladi notes that they are hoping for feedback as the BIUST Council was expected to meet over the issue earlier this year.
Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana
The Board of CAAB appointed the Auditor General to audit CAAB’s accounts in June 2013 for a period of four years. However, Letebele says the accounts for the just-ended financial year were not submitted to her for audit until November 2014, twenty months after financial year-end. The audit is planned for conclusion by February next year.
The accounts for the year ended 31 March 2014 are already late for submission for audit. “The situation has persisted since inception of CAAB in 2009,” says Letebele. The organisation lost senior staff members last year, among them CEO Jefferson Thokwane.