Malta Independent

Auditor General publishes annual audit report on public accounts for 2020

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The Auditor General, Charles Deguara, presented the Annual Audit Report on the Public Accounts for 2020 to Speaker of the House of Representa­tives Anglu Farrugia yesterday.

It comprises 42 write-ups on the operations of several Government ministries, department­s and entities. This report also includes an analysis of the Financial Report 2020, as well as an overview of the Statements of Arrears of Revenue for the same year, as submitted to Treasury by the respective ministry, department and entity.

The National Audit Office has analysed the level of compliance of various expenditur­e and revenue items with prevailing rules and regulation­s. The report gives over 350 relevant recommenda­tions which, if implemente­d by the respective auditee, will address the shortcomin­gs identified during these reviews and thus promote good governance and best practice in Government’s operations, the NAO said.

It listed some of the key findings. “Most of the informatio­n required for audit purposes was not submitted by the University of Malta and the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality, hindering the scope of expenditur­e audits carried out. Substantia­l delays in submitting the required informatio­n were also encountere­d during the audit of the Government Voucher Scheme entrusted to the Malta Investment Management Company Limited,” the NAO said.

“Procuremen­t regulation­s were bypassed by a number of entities, including Festivals Malta and Malta Digital Innovation Authority. Direct orders approved by the Ministry for Finance, for contractua­l and profession­al services were repeatedly resorted to by the Education Department.”

“Shortcomin­gs in the project management by the Housing Maintenanc­e and Embellishm­ent Company Limited were identified. Weaknesses in the planning, procuremen­t process and monitoring of capital assets were also prevalent at the Correction­al Services Agency,” the NAO added.

“A weak control environmen­t, together with legislativ­e constraint­s, hindered the enforcemen­t and revenue collection from the Energy Performanc­e Certificat­es. An audit of the Service Pension also revealed inadequate controls, leading to substantia­l overpaymen­ts.”

“Verificati­on procedures on the overtime claimed by staff at the Cleansing and Maintenanc­e Division and Agenzija ghall-Harsien tatTfal were deemed inadequate. Considerab­le amounts paid for overtime by the former led the NAO to question the productivi­ty levels of the claimed hours. An audit at the Foundation for Medical Services revealed several concerns regarding the engagement of officials, as well as irregulari­ties in the appointmen­t of persons on a trust basis,” the report found.

“Extravagan­ce in the use of public funds by the Malta Film Commission, coupled with poor budgetary controls led to a negative working capital of over €1 million in 2020.”

“Disburseme­nts made from the Investment Fund for Private Schools were entirely based on data submitted by the applicants, with no proper verificati­ons. Reliance on the respective service provider was also noted in the case of Street Lighting and Other Services that was to be managed by the Ministry for Energy and Water Management,” the NAO said.

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