Auditor General, Modou Ceesay has spoken on the dearth of maintaining receipt books in Ministries and government departments.
The auditor general in his deliberation on the audited financial report of Government 2019 report said Section 62 (1) of Financial Regulations requires that “An Officer to whom a receipt book, a license, a ticket or other official form of receipt has been issued shall keep a record of its receipt, its issue to subordinate officers and its final disposal in a Receipt Book Register, License Book Register, Ticket Book Register, etc.”.
According to him, having discussions with officials of the Geology Department it was revealed that General Triplicate Receipt (GTR) books are issued to inspectors through a verbal request made to the Director.
“No register for GTRs received from the Accountant General Department is maintained to show when they are issued and whether they are returned when exhausted,” he stated
In addition, requests made to the Accountant General Department for the supply of GTR books are not recorded, the implication is there is a risk of control weakness over the handling of the GTRs by the Department and there is also a risk that funds received might be diverted for personal use, he explained.
“The dictate of the Financial Regulations is breached and the priority is the auditors recommended that the Department should ensure that copies of requests made to Accountant General are properly filed” he urged
Noting that, the department should maintain a register to record GTR books received from the Accountant General’s Department and issues made to collectors. He said they further recommended that the dictates of the Financial Regulations should always be adhered to.
However, the management responsibilities to the Government, GTR books are obtained through requests in a requisition form from a requisition book with a duplicate. And they should at all times make sure that books issued are returned.
However, with the issue of untraced Receipts, Section 48 (4) of Financial Regulations requires that “A receipting officer shall, where licenses, tickets or other forms of receipts have been used, take extra care to ensure that all receipt numbers appear in the cash book, as evidence that all receipts have been accounted for’’; and Section 54 (1) of Financial Regulations requires that ‘’ A revenue collector shall keep a Cash Book and enter in the Cash Book all receipts on the day of receipts and each receipt number or the first and last receipt numbers of the sequence issued’’.
He explained that, during the period under review, they noted that the Geology Department did not maintain a cash book to record collections made in respect of license fees and royalties on both sand mining operations and stone quarries. The reconciliation of GTRs against pay-in slips also revealed that GTRs serial numbers were not recorded on the pay-in slips used for banking. So could not, therefore, reconcile the collection made via GTRs during the period under review.
He stressed that there is a risk that the revenue collected via GTRs was not lodged to the bank in its entirety leading to the loss of much-needed government revenue. Meanwhile, he said failure to maintain a cashbook is indicative of poor internal controls which if not addressed could lead to fraud and irregularities.
The dictates of the Financial Regulations were breached and these amounts in question are at risk of being diverted for personal use, revenue balance is at risk of being misstated since the amounts in question could not be traced back to the cash book. “We recommend that the Accountant General’s Department liaise with the management of the Geology department and provide adequate induction training to revenue collectors posted to the department.