Audit irregularities of all the agencies to be resolved within a year
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) presented its report for deliberation in the Joint Sitting of the Parliament this week. This is in keeping with the PAC’s mandate to review and present the Annual Audit Report (AAR) or any other reports presented by the Auditor General to the Parliament for its consideration.
The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) submitted the AAR, 2016 to the 10th Session of the Second Parliament in October 2017. The report saw a total unresolved irregularities amounting to Nu 1,026.095 million (mn) as of 30 September 2017, of which RAA was able to solve almost 30 percent, which accounts to Nu 317.940 mn of irregularities. However, irregularities worth Nu 708.155 mn (69.015 percent) still remains unresolved as of 31 March 2018.
The budgetary agencies, which include ministries, dzongkhags, gewog administrations, and autonomous bodies, have resolved irregularities worth Nu 104.359 mn (36.77 percent) with pending irregularities amounting to Nu 179.454 mn.
The non-budgetary agencies like, corporations, financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations, have resolved irregularities worth Nu 14.781 mn (14.29 percent), which leaves pending irregularities amounting to Nu 88.61 mn. In regard to the irregularities of the hydropower projects, Nu 198.800 mn has been resolved which leaves a balance of Nu 88.611 mn irregularities unresolved.
The highest recovery amount of Nu 87.082 mn (54.53 percent) was made by the ministries. This leaves unresolved amount at Nu 72.605mn in the ministries. Corporations also resolved irregularities amounting to Nu 14.631mn (20.91 percent), with unresolved irregularities at Nu 55.355mn.
Some of the important observations made by the Public Accounts Committee reports that the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) has the highest irregularities pertaining to overdue outstanding advances made against the regional offices of the Department of Road Lingmethang, Zhemgang, and Trashigang on compensation cost, among others, upon termination of the contract. MoWHS also incurred wasteful expenditure and other lapses in the online tendering while procuring bitumen emulsion worth Nu 175.95 mn.
The MoWHS Minister, Dorji Choden, however, assured that in regard to the irregularities found by the RAA with the ministry, there is not a single case that involved corrupt practices. “According to the findings by the RAA, there were 12 cases involving irregularities and lapses within the ministry. As of now, eight cases involving irregularities and lapses have been resolved, and what surprises me, is the fact that none of the officials were involved in corrupt practices, apart from some negligence in fulfilling their duty,” clarified Lyonpo Dorji Choden.
The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources has the second highest irregularities among ministries, which amounts to Nu 7.548 mn. This covers illegal collection of fees and non-refunds by Tenzu Overseas employment Agent, whereby the proprietor is still at large, which has been hampering the proceedings, and there were also irregularities due to non-enforcement of the provisions of the regulation on the Bhutanese overseas employment agent.
Under the autonomous agencies, the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) has the highest irregularities with Nu 55.228 mn followed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan amounting to Nu 2.205 mn and the Royal civil Service commission (RCSC) with Nu 1.384 mn.
RAA found the total unresolved irregularities worth Nu 410.840 mn with the Punatsangchhu II Hydroelectric Project Authority (PHPA-II) and Nu 228.05 mn with the Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project Authority (MHPA). It was reported that PHPA-II had made an inadmissible payment of Nu 334 mn, as construction plan advance for old equipment, to a contractor, and MHPA made some excess payment of Nu 29.950 mn to Jaiprakash Associates Limited for a package towards the construction of dam.
After an intensive deliberation among the Parliament Members in the Joint Sitting, the House endorsed all the recommendations by the PAC. An extension on the timeframe, of one year, to resolve the irregularities in the respective agencies has been endorsed by the House.