ACC spent MVR3 million in excess of approved budget, reveals audit

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) spent MVR3.5 million (US$226,978) in excess of the annual budget approved by parliament, the commission’s audit report for 2013 has revealed.

“The overspent amount was facilitated by a budget extension of MVR3,605,647 made to the commission by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury,” explained the report released last week.

“However, it was observed that the parliamentary approval for this budget extension was not obtained as per clause 32(e) of the Public Finance Act.”

The report noted that the ACC Act stipulates that the finance ministry should provide the commission’s budget in accordance with the annual budget passed by parliament.

As a result of “the significance of the matter”, the Auditor General’s Office concluded that the ACC’s expenditures in 2013 were not made “in all material respects, for the achievement of its objectives and for the purposes intended in the budget” and in line with public finance law.

“Extending the budget of the commission by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury without the approval of the parliament negates the objective of approving the budget of public institutions by the parliament as set out in enabling laws of the former,” the report stated.

“It also creates the risk of spending over and above the budget set for the public institutions that could consequently increase the budget deficit.”

In early August, Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad revealed that the government was facing “great difficulty in managing the budget deficit” due to shortfalls in anticipated revenue.

The ballooning budget deficit – which Jihad warned could reach MVR4 million (US$260,000) or 10.6 percent of GDP – could affect the government’s ability to pay civil servants, the finance minister had said.

A budget deficit of MVR1.3 million (US$84,306) had been projected in the record MVR17.96 billion budget approved by parliament for this year.

Meanwhile, auditors also found that the ACC renewed an office cleaning contract in violation of public finance regulations.

A contract with its previous cleaner was renewed on September 8, 2013 for a monthly fee of MVR7,420 (US$481).

“This contract was made without obtaining and evaluating estimates from competing vendors,” the report noted.

“According to the commission, seeking new estimates may have increased their cleaning costs.”

However, public finance regulations require estimates to be sought and evaluated from competing bidders for services costing between MVR25,000 (US$1,621) and MVR1.5 million (US$97,276).

“By not following the public finance regulation, the commission has no assurance that it is obtaining the best service at the lowest price.”