Fri | Feb 21, 2020

No sign of 20 computers bought for Traffic Authority

Published:Wednesday | January 29, 2020 | 12:16 AM
Dr Alwin Hales, permanentsecretary in the Ministry of Transport and Works
Dr Alwin Hales, permanentsecretary in the Ministry of Transport and Works

The Auditor General’s Department said it was unable to verify the existence of 20 computers, costing approximately $1.9 million, that were purchased by the Ministry of Transport and Mining for the Island Traffic Authority, ITA.

Despite repeated requests they were not presented for examination and there was no evidence that the ITA had received the computers, according to the auditor general’s annual report for 2018/19 tabled in Parliament last week.

The auditor general also found that there was a high risk of expenditure being misstated in the transport ministry’s accounts due to the absence of an effective system to ensure that all departmental advances are cleared in a timely manner.

The auditor general’s Department said it identified outstanding advances of approximately $645.9 million relating to the 2016-17 financial year. Consequently, expenditure may be understated by that amount, the report said.

An audit of the appropriation account of the Ministry revealed that the actual expenditure for financial year 2015-16 exceeded the approved budget by approximately $99.9 million, $33.4 million of which related to excess expenditure under the classification compensation of employees.

In addition, a review of the appropriation account for the former Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing revealed that actual expenditure under six of its activities exceeded the approved budget for financial year 2015-16 by approximately $68.9 million. Of that amount, approximately $5.3 million related to excess expenditure in relation to compensation of employees, and $63.6 million related to physical infrastructure projects.

The auditor general said the accounting officer was advised to obtain the requisite approvals for the excess expenditure and ensure that going forward all expenditure remain within the approved budget and comply with the financial instructions.

The auditor general said the actual appropriations-in-aid expenditure for the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing exceeded the approved budget by approximately $102.9 million, while collections by the Toll Road Authority approved as appropriations-in-aid was understated by $961,631 for the 2015-16 financial year. Appropriations-in-aid means any revenue that a department collects in the ordinary course of business, which has been approved by Parliament to be used by the department.

In addition, the Auditor General’s Department said it was unable to verify expenditure of approximately $201.2 million for the 2015-16 financial year relating to the Caribbean Maritime Institute due to the absence of sufficient supporting documents.

“Despite our requests, the ministry did not provide the relevant documents for review,” the report said.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, Dr Alwin Hales, has so far not responded to the Financial Gleaner’s queries about the auditor general’s concerns.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com