Issues addressed in COVID-19 Auditor General’s Report will be discussed – Finance Ministry

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The Ministry of Finance has stated that it will resolve all shortcomings mentioned in the Auditor- General’s report on the government’s Covid-19 expenditure.

The report uncovered some irregularities in the government’s expenditure for Covid-19, which ran from March 2020 to June 2022.

Some of the corrupt practices exposed include the government paying a total of $607,419.02 out of $4,049,460.12 for the purchase of 26 ambulances that were never delivered, the Information Ministry paying an unapproved amount of 151,500 to its own staff as Covid-19 insurance, and the government paying for $80 million worth of vaccines that were never delivered, among others.

Responding to the report, the Ministry of Finance stated that the findings provide government an opportunity to implement the recommendations made by the Auditor-General.

“The Ministry welcomes the Auditor General’s report and wishes to assure the public that, steps are being taken to address all issues,” a statement issued by the Public Relations Unit on Wednesday said.

Some interventions are presently being explored through meetings with implementing agencies to examine steps made to implement the audit recommendations in the study, according to the report.

“Preparation of an Emergency Expenditure Management Guideline is being considered. This guideline will provide government with administrative protocols in times of emergency such as the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure compliance with relevant PFM regulations while providing timely responses”.

The statement reassured citizens that the government will continue to use established budgetary and accountability procedures to enforce and improve expenditure management and accountability in order to ensure proper utilization of tax payer money to the full benefit of citizens.

Providing some background and clarifications, the Finance Ministry said the audit report confirms total resources mobilized for the Covid-19 response over the period March 2020 to June 2022 at ¢21,844,189,185.24.

“As indicated on page 7, paragraph 18 of the report, the funds mobilized were to address the following two key interventions: – finance direct Covid-19 intervention expenditures; and support the funding gap in the budget which was occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on revenue mobilization.

“As reported on page 11, paragraph 31 of the report, the 53.8% and 46.2% spent on direct Covid-19 interventions and for general budget support respectively were consistent with the mandate approved by Parliament.

“The Ministry of Finance coordinated the mobilization and disbursement of funds for the Covid-19 responses by government in accordance with the Public Financial Management Act, to ensure timely release of funds to save lives, livelihoods, and property,” the report concluded.

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