Advances ‘not returned’

SINCE 2015 more than $220,000 in accountable advances provided to Ministry of Education officers has not been returned to the ministry.

The Office of the Auditor General’s (OAG’s) audit of the ministry found there were delays in the retiring of advances with one advance only fully acquitted after 193 days.

The OAG further found the ministry did not adhere to internal policy.

The OAG said such policies required that unacquitted advances be recovered through salary deductions and that interest be charged on all unacquitted advances.

The OAG has recommended that the ministry investigate reasons for officers not fully retiring accountable advances.

It said the ministry should instigate necessary recovery actions on officers, who failed to retire advances within seven days, upon return from duty.

“Accountable advances totaling $224,947 have not been retired as at 31 July, 2016, the aging of the outstanding accountable advances indicates that advances totaling $170,077 have been outstanding since 2015.”

The OAG noted that accountable advances were not always retired with $1316.96 still outstanding.

“Non-timely retirement of advances results in understatement of expenditure for the period,” the OAG said.

“In addition, partial retirement of advances increases the risk of irrecoverable debts resulting on write-off.

“The audit findings are a result of non-compliance to established procedures relating to accountable advances indicating that proper supervisory checks were not carried out by responsible officers.”

The OAG recommended that staff members be regularly reminded to retire any accountable advance taken after on timely basis after completion of trips.

“The ministry should ensure accountable advances are properly accounted and promptly reflected in expenditures within the accounting period.”

In response, the ministry said it would review all advances for 2016 and ensure that officers were surcharged for late retirement and if they had not fully retired.

“On the other hand ministry will review the details in table above and ensure that recoveries are done from the staff,” it said.

“Moving on, ministry would like to highlight to audit that the accountable advance is now well monitored.”

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