By Binta Jaiteh
The Inability of the Accountant General’s Department to provide supporting documentation, information, and explanation on a timely basis was the most significant obstacle that hindered the audit of the Government’s 2019 financial statements.
The auditors speaking to the Assembly Committee on Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) that the audit began in November 2020 but could not be completed until November 2021.
According to the report, auditors have demanded that the cash activity report of the government should be provided for audit inspection and verification soonest. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs should work together with the Accountant General’s Department to ensure all segments in the Chart of Accounts are populated to report on the actual amount spent on each program, sub-program, and activity. This will help to measure and evaluate the extent to which government policies are implemented.
The report further stated that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs should adhere to the rules of the call circular and not issue any further cash allocation to MDAs that failed to submit their activity reports.
Auditors queried that, they noted a difference between the general ledger and cash equivalent totaling D4,968,902,000.00. As a result, the total cash balances in the financial statements were misstated and also a difference of D3,462,118.29 between the translated Cashbook balance and the General Ledger balance for the Special project US dollar (USD) account. This was a result of not using the official USD exchange rate as of 31st December 2019.
There is a risk that the special project USD cash balance disclosed in Note 15 Cash and cash equivalent were understated in the financial statement as a result of the misstatements in the general ledger and cashbook. Un-reconciled items have amounted to D6,501,536,055.64 during review and re-performing bank reconciliation. These items include carryovers from previous years that remained in the books and no evidence of corrections was provided to me. Failure to correct un-reconciled items for more than one accounting period renders the entire reconciliation process fruitless. There is no point in performing reconciliation if errors and omissions are not corrected and adjusted on time, the report stated.
However, on the adverse opinion of the significance of the matters identified in the Basis of Opinion paragraph below, the financial statements of the Government of The Gambia did not present fairly the financial position of the Government of The Gambia as of 31st December 2019, and their financial performance for the year then ended in accordance with the Public Finance Act and Cash Basis International Public Sector Accounting Standards. The budget call circular for the financial year 2019 was not submitted during our audit.
In addition, the minutes and cash plan of the Ministries mentioned in the management response were reviewed and the following are still outstanding Forecast revenue submitted by MDAs, the Budget Bilateral Meeting minutes of the remaining MDAs, nominal roll of MDAs submitted by PMO to Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs at the beginning of the year, Evidence of Review by IMF, Cabinet, and National Assembly.
The auditors concluded that the government of the Gambia’s financial statement was prepared per the provisions of the Public Finance Act and Cash Basis, International Public Sector Accounting Standard (IPSAS).
Notwithstanding, the provisions of the Constitution, Public Finance Act, and requirements under the IPSAS cash basis were not fully complied with.