Audit: The Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (FCBL) has resolved two major audit irregularities on time. This comes following its public hearing conducted by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on September 12.

In one case, the corporation had allowed its bidders at the auction yard delayed payments for several hundred farmers. Payment of about Nu 37.29 (million) was delayed.

A farmer’s payment, in one case, was delayed for 770 days. However, the dues have now been collected and payments made.

During the public hearing, the FCBL management responded that the delay in payment was due to credit facilities the management had to render to bidders. Extending credit facilities to bidders, the management pointed out, enhanced purchasing capacity of bidders, which fetched better auction prices and helped farmers. Dues were collected in a few month’s time.

However, the general manager with FCBL’s Food & Essential Commodity department in Phuentsholing, Sangay Wangdi said the dues have now been recovered from all the bidders.

“We have also come with a comprehensive credit manual with credit limit that was approved by the board,” he said, adding that it would facilitate auctioning processes and help farmers.

From now, FCBL will allow a credit period of 45 days to bidders within which bidders must make their payments. The government has also approved an overdraft (OD) facility of Nu 100 million (M) to FCBL. This OD facility helps the corporation’s auction yards to make prompt payments to farmers in three day’s time.

In another case, a service charge of about Nu 11.40M was not deposited in the office’s accounts. The service charge collected from bidders was instead used to pay growers, FCBL had mentioned during the hearing.

However, the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) had stated the justification submitted by FCBL management was not tenable.

“But it is now received, deposited, and settled with the head office,” Sangay Wangdi said.

During the public hearing, there were two observations on the irregularities: those that occurred from 2009 to 2013 and in 2014, which is accounted for separately. Irregularities from 2009 to 2013 were supposed to have been resolved by March this year, while irregularities of 2014 was to have been resolved by September this year.

Meanwhile, RAA has dropped one of the two irregularities with regards to outstanding rent because the same amounts were showing in the second irregularity list. Although most outstanding amounts were collected, an outstanding amount of Nu 94,835 could not be recovered because the current FCBL management could not trace some tenants and their address. The agreement drawn in the past had no details of these tenants, FCBL officials said.

“We are still working on those remaining cases,” Sangay Wangdi said.

The public hearing was conducted on September 12 as a follow up to the resolutions of the seventh session of Parliament and conducted in accordance with the rules of procedure of the committee.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing