Agri Ministry continues to spend money voted for drainage body –Auditor General

Spending by the Agriculture Ministry of money voted for the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has again been criticized by the Office of the Auditor General and a call made again for this to end.

The 2010 report of the Auditor General on the Public Accounts of the Ministries/ Departments/Regions charged that the ministry continued to expend amounts which were voted as subvention and capital provision for the NDIA. According to the report, $2.98 billion were expended on these provisions for 2010 with $1.95 billion coming from the current provision.

The report pointed out that the NDIA is a “separate legal entity created by Act 8 of 2004 and is required to maintain its own accounting records and is subject to separate reporting and audit”. The report lamented that this situation resulted in the failure to have the necessary financial statements for the years 2005 to 2010 prepared and tendered for audit. The report noted that this continued the trend from previous years.

In its response, the head of the ministry’s budget agency said that the “NDIA continues to pursue…this direction, however, many difficulties are yet to (be) overcome”.

In the 2009 report, when the exact complaint was made in the Auditor General’s report, the Ministry of Agriculture’s response was “The Head of Budget Agency explained that NDIA is currently building its capacity. As soon as the Authority is capable, steps will be taken in collaboration with NDIA and the Ministry of Finance to maintain separate accounting records, reporting systems and procedures in keeping with the appropriate legislation. A Financial Operation manual has been developed and is being shared with key decision makers with a view of advancing the process of complying with the NDIA laws.”

Even though this commitment was given in 2009, the ministry’s response in the 2010 report does not reflect it.

In both years, the Auditor General’s recommendation was that the ministry take appropriate action to hand over all subventions to the NDIA so that it could assume its responsibility as enshrined under its governing legislation.

Critics have used instances like this to charge that the ministries pay little heed to the recommendations in the Auditor General’s report and that the report itself continues to make the same recommendation year after year without other recourse.

They also point out that the ministry has accepted that it has been in breach of a law passed as far back as 2004.

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