Annual reporting such a chore


ANNUAL reports from the Auditor-General show that other statutory agencies and departments find compiling financial reports such a chore that they hardly make the effort to account for the money allocated to them for their routine functions or projects.
They drag their feet in accounting for public money that has been channelled into their various operations over the years and have fallen behind in keeping up to this necessary part of their duties.
A few years ago, this failure by public service entities was highlighted by the Auditor-General’s office which was presented to Parliament which highlighted such negligence.
In that report, it was pointed out that out of the 99 government bodies, only 41 had complied with the Public Finances Management Act by providing their annual reports to their respective ministers.
Even the Ombudsman Commission, the watch dog of political and bureaucratic leadership, is guilty of such neglect. It had not submitted its financial reports for 2014 and 2015. The PNG Sports Foundation has been singled out as the worst offender then as its last report was done two ago from that date.
The Auditor-General’s report in question, which this paper had amply was an indication that over the years, government entities who have been handed millions of kina have not consistently reported back on how and where such money has been expended.
The lack of accounting and auditing applies not only to the use of cash but in also taking stock of physical state assets. Throughout the years, a lot of state assets have vanished from official registers or left to rot away because of such lack of proper accounting.
A case in point was the failure by the National Broadcasting Corporation to properly report on its assets, worth millions of kina, which the Auditor-General pointed to in his report.
According to the report, the corporation has not maintained a fixed asset register to properly record, account and control the movement of assets and determine their depreciation.
The report also noted the corporation’s inability to record and account for fixed asset additions, disposals and transfers of assets between its provincial stations during the audit year.
The Auditor-General has not been able to ascertain the ownership of assets and whether they were still operational because he was not able to examine such assets.
There could be similar situations in other government organisations as well, which is a real worry because annually millions of kina have been lost when government assets are either lost or allowed to go into a state of disrepair.
Through effective and timely reporting and auditing government bodies would be able to keep track of their assets, better manage and deliver value for money to the public their serve.
Although some specific organs of state have been heavily criticised over the years, the public service has generally lived up to its mission in carrying out the work of government.
How else would the state have survived the past four decades?
The concerned government bodies have been spending public money on their mandated functions, however, their good work is called into question if they neglect simple compliance responsibilities as revealed in the Auditor-General’s report.
One wonders why government bodies have been so erratic in complying with the legal requirement over the years and have gotten away with it.
Perhaps the Auditor-General’s office or Parliament may want to consider legislative or policy changes to improve the ability of state bodies to comply with reporting requirements rather than wait to make them look bad when they don’t comply.
It has been the same old song for years.
To see an improvement in the public service generally, such laziness should not be allowed to persist.