Health officials accused of over-claiming TA/DA

The Royal Audit Authority has found lapses in a UNICEF funded project that the health ministry implemented during a review of the accounting records, internal controls and operations.

The audit findings revealed travel and daily allowances (TA/DA) were paid to officials by increasing their grades and double payment and overpayment were made due to overlapping dates in the claims. 

The report stated that in the financial period from July 1, 2016, to June 20, 2017, an irregular payment of Nu 162,242 was made to health officials while paying TA/DA by enhancing the officials’ grades. 

“Such an anomaly was noted during the verification of the position levels as per the civil service information system (CSIS) vis-a-vis individual travel claims of the officials,” it stated.

The RAA pointed out that most officials enhanced their grades in the travel authorisation and travel allowance bill to make it eligible to claim TA/DA and mileage at higher rates.

According to the RAA, such lapse apparently happened due to the failure of the training coordinators or programme managers and the accounts personnel to exercise due diligence while verifying and passing the TA/DA claims. 

It also pointed out double payment of Nu 187,744 to officials for UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA funded projects who attended trainings or workshops conducted by the ministry. “Officials made TA/DA claims from different projects for the same travel dates.”

RAA stated that the auditing team found officials submitted the TA/DA claims to respective accounts section at a different time to avoid detection. 

It stated the double claiming occurred because of lack of proper control mechanism from the project management and lack of information sharing mechanism among different project accountants while passing the claims.

“Unlike the LC Account, the PEMS system has no provision for maintaining travel registers,” the report stated.

It found Nu 267,924 as overpayment of TA/DA due to overlapping dates. “It occurred due to the lack of proper scrutiny by the project management and lack of information sharing amongst different project accountants while passing the TA/DA claims.”

While the report has few samples, it doesn’t reflect the total number of officials in the other two lapses. In the overpayment of TA/DA due to overlapping dates, a graph shows five doctors, five dzongkhag health officers, about 19 programme officers and 15 other officials. The graph doesn’t specify who the other officials are. 

The report also reflects the response from the health ministry, which states that the officials involved were informed to deposit the excess claim to the audit recovery section and that the ministry’s human resource committee (HRC) is taking up the issue.

Tashi Dema

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