Accountant General’s Dept. flouted procurement rules


…PAC Report 2011

By Jariatu Bangura

A number of fiscal lapses have been verified in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including the Accountant General’s Office, due to breach of rules and regulations slated in the National Public Procurement Authority Act, 2005, during hearings on the Audit Service Report of 2011 by the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament, according to Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Komba Eric Koedoyoma.

The ruling party lawmaker said that management letters were not responded to within the thirty days prescribed by the Budgeting and Accountability Act, and that it is now a norm that most MDAs do not comply with the Transparency and Accountability Act.

He noted that such attitude of MDAs disturbs and delays the work of the auditors in preparing their report.

He said vote controllers and finance officers were not treating auditors seriously, noting that the Audit Service was setup to monitor the financial activities of MDAs on how funds are been expended.

“According to the report and from the review of the procurement plan, it was indicted that computers and computer accessories should be procured through the National Competitive Bidding (NCB) method. Though funds were available, it was observed that the procurement of the computers and computer accessories were split and the NCB shopping method was not employed. The total of the split procurement amounted Le. 87, 587, 750,”he disclosed.

In addition, he said, during the audit exercise auditors were informed that the request for quotations method was employed in the procurement of various services stated in the procurement plan.

He said the only evidence that was provided to substantiate that claim was the requests that were sent out and quotations from various business houses were not provided for audit review, thus making it very difficult to ascertain whether the supplier with the lowest quoted prices was selected.

In response, the Accountant-General said that although it was stated in the department’s procurement plan that computers and accessories were to be procured through a National Competitive bidding, the Procurement Committee decided in its first meeting in the financial year 2011 that the method of Request For Quotation (RFQ) should be used because of the slow and intermittent disbursement of funds and allocations by Ministry Of Finance and Economic Development.

 He said regarding the absence of adequate supporting documents, including three competitive pro-forma invoices and all of the payment vouchers complete with the necessary supporting documents attached, that management had instituted measures of pre-numbering payment vouchers before they were processed to ascertain missing documents in future.

Responses were given to two out of three issues raised, hence no evidence was provided to substantiate that responses were received from suppliers for the RFQs sent. Therefore, Audit Service officials were unable to determine how the contracts were awarded to contractors, the belated Public Accounts Committee report said.

The Committee thus recommended that provisions in the National Public Procurement Act, 2005, must be fully complied with and that relevant documentations, including quotations and pro-forma invoices, must be made available within thirty days after the adoption of the report by Parliament for further consideration.