Public Works Ministry fails to maintain contract register

– AG finds no record of $5.8B spent on construction

The Ministry of Public Works last year spent $5.894 billion on the construction of roads and bridges without maintaining a contract register to record the details of the financial transactions, the 2009 Auditor General’s report said.

According to the report, during last year “a contract register was not maintained to record details of the financial transactions in relation to the projects undertaken by the ministry.”

The absence of these records, the report said, “created significant gaps in the financial information required for validation of expenditure in relation to the projects undertaken.  The failure to maintain this record is a major weakness in the financial system and is in breach of circularized instruction.”

In response, the Head of the Budget Agency within the Public Works Ministry said “the contract register is in place but was not written up at the time of the audit. Action is now being taken to bring it up to date.”

The Audit Office recommended that the ministry take action to ensure that the register is properly maintained and kept up to date at all times.

Meanwhile, during the period under review, the ministry issued 12 Inter/Intra Departmental Allocation Warrants for amounts totalling $284.731 million for the regional administrations of regions 2, 3, 5, 6 and 9.

While the amounts on the warrants were to enable the rehabilitation of roads in the respective regions, they were recorded as final expenditure without financial returns being submitted to validate what was actually spent.  “In the circumstances, amounts expended through these warrants, including any adjustments required to be made to the Appropriation Account, could not be determined,” the report said.

The Head of the Budget Agency concurred with the observation and said that the respective regional executive officers were spoken to in relation to the submission of returns and this will be followed up in writing.

It was recommended by the Audit Office that the ministry ensure that where Inter Departmental Warrants are issued, monthly financial returns are submitted so that appropriate adjustments could be made to the Appropriation Accounts to avoid incorrect reporting of expenditure.

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