MONROVIA – The General Auditing Commission (GAC) has identified multiple issues of significant materiality that affect the operations of the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020 in the audit report recently released to the National Legislature.
The audit revealed that the amounts of L$11,722,784.48 and US$389,800.71 were made for projects and other transactions without evidence of adequate supporting documents such as payment vouchers, receipts, invoices, delivery notes, goods received notes, certificate of completion to support the payments, which the GAC says undermines the legitimacy of the transactions.
According to the audit report, payments amounting to US$47,922.50 were made in the name of CARI Finance staff rather than the vendors / service providers or the authorized representatives. The GAC says that there is a risk payments in the name of an employee of the institution could lead to conflict of interest and diversion of public fund to personal use. However, the Management of CARI claimed in its response to the GAC that “there were no check books when the money was credited into the accounts and the donors needed results immediately.” The report asserts that the reason given by the CARI Management is not material justification for making third party payments in the name of CARI Finance Staff. Therefore, the GAC says Management is in breach of financial discipline.
The audit further noted a variance of US$59,369.29 between the total amounts disbursed to CARI as per the Fiscal Outturn Report 2019/2020 and the total amount received as per the Expenditure Report.
Further, the GAC observed unauthorized payment vouchers in the amount of US$10,482.00 processed and paid without evidence of approval by the Director General / Officer in Charge / CARI. The GAC says there is a risk that the failure to ensure that payment vouchers are fully completed and approved by the authorized signatories before disbursement of check could lead to misappropriation of public funds. Therefore, given the nature of this transaction, the GAC has referred this matter to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission for further investigation.
Salary payments amounting to US$856.00 and L$34,416.76 were made to individuals who were not on the personnel listing of the institution for the period under audit. The GAC says there is a risk that salary payments to staff could be carried out arbitrarily in the absence of names being placed on personnel listing of the institution. Therefore, the GAC is recommending that staff on the payroll and not on the personnel listing should be investigated and immediately removed from the payroll.
It was observed by the GAC that the CARI’s Management maintained the names of some staff that are dead, dismissed, or resigned on the payroll. The total salaries paid in the names of the separated staff for the period under audit was US$14,006.85. Maintaining the names of separated staff on the payroll could lead to fraud, corruption and the abuse of public resources says the GAC. There is a lack of several internal control policies and procedures including policies on risk management, human resource management, retention, fuel and scratch card distribution, petty cash, study leave even though several payments were made for these activities, the audit concluded.
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