Mauritius public audit finds major misuse of taxpayer money
A Mauritius audit conducted by the (NAO) National Audit Offices has revealed that serious inadequacies in many government departments have led to huge budgetary shortfalls including unsanctioned spending and unaccounted for revenues.
Key conclusions cited in the National Audit Office -Director Audit 2012 report include significant misconduct in urban development projects, systemic over-budgeting and gross mishandling of money.
At the end of December 2012, auditors indicated overall arrears in government agency accounts have reached just over $221 million, saying the principal reason for the shortfall is lack of proficiency and being "unresourceful" in several government ministries .
Notable cases within the report involves the Department of Social Security spending an additional $3 million on aging pensions that were unaccounted for previously.
Auditors found that the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development spent $6.2 million dollars with only $2.6 million dollars endorsed in the national budget.
An industrial-size drain project in Port Louis’s outskirts was budgeted for $90.4 million , while auditors found a massive $27.8 million blowout of costs not reported in previous ministerial accounts.
The report also detailed that the Registrar of Companies has $9.9 million missing in revenue, which is coincidently under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption for alleged money laundering.
An unexpected liability of $12.7 million was also identified relating to lands leased by government departments.
Also under scrutiny were key ministries such as the Prime Ministers offices, the Treasury and the Ministry Of Finance, also indicating considerable anomalies in accounts.
Since 2003, the report found citizens who are now deceased but are still amongst a record of patients that public physicians were charging medical expenses for, attracting more attention by auditors.
Further, national auditors highlighted that a school construction development was subcontracted without the authorisation of the Ministry of Education, disregarding legislative law whilst costing taxpayers $1.7 million.
The National Audit Office, an independent governmental body, also underlined in its findings that overall government ministries and departments have major problems with upholding good governance standards.
Political columnists from several Mauritian newspapers have portrayed the audits findings as an enormous waste of taxpayers’ money and as public service ineptitude by the in term Mauritian Labour government.
Rajun Jugurnath, Director of the National Audit Office, told reporters in Port Louis that risk management strategies have to be employed to ensure greater fiscal transparency within government agencies, keeping check on potential public service misconduct .
Moreover, Mr Jugurnath said that government needs to be held directly responsible for not spending wisely and that global accountability standards is required by the public sector in modern day Mauritius.