By Binta Jaiteh
A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed that the recalculated account balances disclosed in the statement of deposit as of 31st December 2019 revealed a misstatement of D85,638,000 resulting from 57 accounts that had inaccurate balances
Presenting their findings on government 2019 reports, Modou Ceesay noted that 23 accounts were closed in 2019 while balances were claimed to have been transferred to the Consolidated Fund (CF) but the evidence was not provided for auditors’ review regarding the closure and transfer of funds.
In the future, Accountant General’s Department should conduct a comprehensive reconciliation exercise of accounts identified before closure and there is a risk that the balances on the statement of deposit are misstated, therefore “we recommended for accounts to be verified and adjusted accordingly.”
In addition, he stated that there was no evidence provided to show that the Accountant General Department investigated balances held in these accounts or obtained a T24 bank statement to verify the actual balances before instructing Central Bank to close these accounts.
He said, there is a risk that funds are still held in these accounts before closure and funds are not transferred to the CF as claimed and there is a risk that funds are misappropriated. We request the Accountant General provide the audit team with evidence of funds transferred to the CRF.
Management’s response was due to an error with the report ( Statement of Deposit Note 20) which has been corrected in the Revised Financial Statements. Finding according to Section 29 (13) of Financial Regulations states that, “Sums of money, not being government revenues or public funds, may be deposited with the Accountant General or with such other Accounting Officer as may be authorised by the Accountant General”,
Such deposits shall not be paid into the Consolidated Fund or applied for any government purpose he noted
He explained that deposits may be invested and the interest earned on deposits shall be credited to the Consolidated Fund, a deposit that is unclaimed for five years shall be credited to the Consolidated Fund, and The Accountant General shall maintain a deposit ledger.
However, a third-party account refers to funds held in trust or on behalf of third parties by the Government. These funds are deposited into special accounts with Central Bank as prescribed under the provisions of the Financial Regulations discussion with officials at the Accountant General Department revealed that some deposit accounts are transit accounts in which third-party funds are held. As a result, the account balances should be transferred to relevant accounts at the year-end. He stressed that they noted that 30 (Thirty) deposit accounts with balances were not transferred to the respective beneficiary’s account at the year-end. The Implication is that this is indicative of weak controls on the monitoring of these accounts which shows that there is a risk that funds in these accounts could be misappropriated if they are not cleared at the year’s end.