A Royal Audit Authority (RAA) audit of the Medical Store and Distribution Division (MSDD) in Phuentsholing, that supplies medicines and equipment to 20 Dzongkhags, found various irregularities in the audit period from July 2020 to June 2021.
The RAA came across several ghost workers in the list with the MSDD.
The MSDD had incurred over Nu.2.73 million towards daily wage Muster Roll payment to labourers engaged in stacking, segregation, packaging of medical supplies and loading of goods for the period July 2020 to November 2021.
Given the huge expenditure reported by the MSDD towards daily wage Muster Roll payments every financial year, the audit team did a detailed review of the Muster Roll payments from 1 July 2020 to 30 November 2021.
The RAA came across 21 ghost workers who were paid Nu. 625,005.
The management said that of the Nu. 605,645 expenditure Nu. 418,585 was stated to be the extra wages paid to the daily wageworkers on top of the actual entitled wage of Nu. 215 per day.
The management said it was initiated mainly to encourage and retain the experienced workers, who were otherwise not willing to work for MSDD at the government-approved rate.
Nu. 187,060 was stated to be spent on tea and snacks served to the wageworkers and staff of MSDD during the period July 2020 to November 2021.
The RAA opined that the payment of wages to workers more than the approved wage rate of Nu. 215 per day without seeking the approval of the competent authority was highly irregular; and the method adopted using ghost workers to adjust the additional wage payments was grossly unethical.
RAA asked to recover the sum of Nu. 206,420 which includes the tea and snacks for which there is no bill.
Taking note of the pervasiveness of Muster Roll manipulations within the MSDD management, the audit team did a substantive audit of the muster roll activities for the financial year 2021- 2022.
The verification disclosed 4 daily wageworkers despite being marked present in the attendance records were not present in the workplace on the given day of 30 December 2021.
Further enquiry showed that these workers were not at the MSDD for months and had still been paid Nu 76,501.
As transpired from sources, the wageworkers seem to be engaged in personal works of the officials’ elsewhere; but the MSDD management have not disclose their whereabouts to the RAA team.
As per the affidavit received from two of the missing concerned wageworkers, both the labourers were still in Gelephu, engaged in the building construction works of the Chief Procurement Officer of MSDD.
RAA said wage workers are engaged in personal works despite their payments being booked in the Muster Roll of the government LC accounts.
Apart from ghost workers the RAA found many instances of inadmissible TA/DA payments.
During the financial year 2020-2021, MSDD management had charged over Nu.1.829 mn on TA/DA payments constituting about 18.29 % of the budget.
Despite a Ministry of Finance circular restricting DA to 500 per day the MSDD paid 1,000 for September resulting in Nu 41,000 extra payments which are to be recovered.
To establish the authenticity of the expenditure reported on In-country Travels, the audit engagement team verified the travel claims and bills of all employees of MSDD against RSTA escort registration records and COVID test records pertaining to employees detailed on official work to Gelephu and Samdrupjongkhar via Indian route.
However, the management failed to make available and so many employees have to refund Nu 242,184 in TA/DA as they could not prove their travel.
Desuups who receive salary are not eligible for Nu 500 per day escort fee but an MSDD employee was not only paid this amount but in addition to that he claimed and got Nu 35,904 mileage for 6 escort trips to Thimphu. The amounts are to be recovered.
A former MSDD driver who was hired on daily wage was paid Nu 48,500 in TA/DA payments for which daily wage drivers are not eligible.
Two drivers claimed and got double DA payment of Nu 6,128.
The RAA found a case of fictitious table tour when a driver who did not travel to Gelephu claimed Nu 5,000 in TA/DA.