FPAC: Government generates over D90 million on confiscated timbers

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly dubbed FPAC has reported that the Gambia Government has generated revenue totaling ninety million, six hundred and eighteen thousand (D90,618,000.00) as proceeds of confiscated timber smuggled from Senegal.

FPAC revealed this in its report on the 2019 Accounts of the Government, COVID-19 Phase Two, and Financial Statements of Agencies, Institutions, Municipalities, and Area Councils, tabled in the Legislative House by the FPAC Chairperson and Member for Brikama North, Hon. Alhagie S Darboe.

FPAC Reports: “The auditors noted that government revenue from the proceeds of confiscated smuggled timbers totaling D90,618,000.00 from Senegal has been recognized under the statement of deposit as third-party funds.”

The committee added that there is no evidence provided to show that proceeds from confiscated smuggled timbers are held in trust or on behalf of a third party.

“Contrary to management’s response, part of the funds was used to procure some riot equipment and vehicles amounting to D58,669,927.79 and 49, 999,999.75 was paid to the Government of the Republic of Senegal,” said FPAC.

According to the committee, the auditor’s discussion with officials at the Accountant General’s Department revealed that some deposit accounts are transit accounts in which third-party funds are held.

As a result, the FPAC said that the account balances should be transferred to relevant accounts at the year-end, saying that there are still eight deposit accounts with balances that are not transferred to the respective beneficiaries’ accounts at the year-end.

“The auditor’s discussion with officials of the Accountant General’s Department and review of the statement of deposits in the financial statements revealed that three deposit accounts with balances were dormant since 2014,” FPAC revealed on dormant accounts not closed.

It added that there was evidence provided to show that these accounts were closed and their balances transferred to the consolidated fund.

On the misclassification of revenue accounts as third-party accounts, FPAC reported that the review of the statement of deposit in the financial statement by the auditors revealed that six revenue accounts were wrongly classified as third-party deposit accounts.

The committee recommended that the Accountant General make efforts to reverse the accounting treatment and transfer funds to the appropriate revenue bank account, that balances in the accounts be transferred to their respective beneficiaries, and that the dormant accounts be closed and balances transferred to the Consolidated Funds.

“The dictates of the Financial Regulation should always be adhered to and the Accountant General should ensure that the correction is made as soon as possible, and details furnished to Auditors for verification. The committee noted the observations of the Auditor General with grave concern, and it further recommends that the Accountant General urgently reverse the accounting treatment and transfer the funds to the appropriate revenue bank accounts,” FPAC recommended.

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