K50m not spent by Planning

Focus, Normal

THE Auditor-General report into the Department of National Planning and Monitoring’s 2001 performance revealed that a staggering 70% of its budget had been underspent.
The department received K76,330,000 but managed to spend only K26,020,000.
The PAC said: “This means that public monies earmarked for development never left the department because, as subsequent audit reports showed, the department had no capacity to manage, oversee, implement or apply a Development Budget.”
Successive governments have, within financial constraints provided adequate and properly targeted development budgets which, if they were properly implemented, would have given meaningful assistance to the people.
“Yet we see no services even in districts close to major urban centres – and the situation in our remote areas is pitiful,” the PAC concluded.
“A large part of the problem lies in Waigani where public servants have proven themselves unequal and unwilling to quickly and fully activate political decisions.”
Other serious defects in the 2001 management and accounting of public funds included:
* Bank reconciliation statements dating back to 1999 that had not been investigated, cleared and adjusted. This basic failure continues to the present day; 
* Irregularities in the management of trust accounts;
* Documents recording payments from trust accounts were not produced for audit; 
* Problems with commitment control. Expenditure reports from the department conflicted with expenditure reports from the Department of Finance in a sum of K 6,935,639; 
* Serious non-compliance with prescribed procurement and payment procedures. This feature of departmental performance continues unaddressed to the present day; 
* Serious failures to acquit travel advances were identified. In one instance, K147,270 was paid to two officers as a cash advance but no record of the distribution of these advances – or any other matter – was provided; 
* Irregularities in payroll administration; 
* No internal audit unit; and
* Considerable weaknesses in internal controls.