Almost 30 percent of unresolved irregularities pertains to MoWHS

The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) has unearthed irregularities worth Nu 588.78 M last year, according to the annual audit report.

Initially, the RAA had uncovered issues amounting to Nu 3.04B. However, based on actions taken and responses from the agencies, Nu 2.45B was resolved fully or substantially.

Auditor general Tshering Kezang, said, irregularities are declining since 2013 because of strong internal control system. “However, more issues are coming from the construction sector,” he said.

Even then, irregularities last year has increased by 12.4 percent compared to 2015.

The highest amount of irregularities of Nu 367M was reported under shortfall, lapse and deficiencies constituting about 62 percent of the total unresolved irregularities. Of the total amount under this category, Nu 234M pertains to ministries.

Violation of laws and rule had a financial implication of Nu 159.7M. For instance, the Bhutan Power Corporation Limited in Phuentsholing had not levied 10 percent liquidated damages amounting to Nu 38M.

The Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) has allowed bidders to include general items of works amounting to Nu 16.5M as separate items of work in bill of quantity (BOQ), deviating the procurement rules and Bhutan schedule of rates.

In another case, the Royal Civil Service Commission has not penalised and recovered Nu 9M from five students who successfully completed their MBBS courses and returned to the country but did not join the service as per the letter of undertaking.

The Dratshang Lhentshog has also not booked expenditures amounting to Nu 5M and did not remit Nu 4.77M into the refundable deposit account maintained with public accounts department. It has however reflected this payment in receipts and payment statement.

The total irregularities reported under mismanagement amounts to Nu 52M. Ministries topped the list.

One such case pertains to the MoWHS with an irregularity of Nu 13M that the ministry paid as compensation to the owners of the structures affected under Taba local area plan. However, during the site visit and verification, it was found that structure valuing Nu 10.5M was not removed even after a time lapse of 14 months.

MoWHS also incurred wasteful expenditure of Nu 3.7M for the Dagapela-Dalbari secondary national highway, by continuing to pay remuneration to four engineers of the project management and supervision consultancy although contract works had been terminated.

The labour ministry also had a case where an overseas employment agent had illegally sent 39 candidates without prior approval from the ministry and had illegally collected Nu 7.5M.

The RAA also reported cases with possible elements of corruption and embezzlement amounting to Nu 9.4M, representing two percent of the total irregularities. Ministries constitute more than 85 percent of the cases that involve fraud, corruption and embezzlement.

Ministry of education has the highest irregularities reported under fraud and corruption cases. It has misrepresented facts in one of the international assisted projects funded for the construction of a retaining wall at Minjey Middle Secondary School in Lhuntse valuing Nu 6.66M.

The institute of language and cultural studies in Takse has not deposited Nu 1.33M into the welfare fund account from the collection of security deposits, self funding fees, paper re-check fees, distant education fees, rentals from the cafeteria and printing and photocopy charges.

In addition, the divisional forest office at Lobesa made an inflated payment amounting to Nu 1.01M in construction of a unit office at Gogona, Wangdue. It had also made an extra payment of around Nu 0.1M for items, which were actually not executed in the construction of a toilet and kitchen at Gogona unit office.

In another case, the assistant engineer of Gasa dzongkhag had forged a bank guarantee amounting to Nu 0.2M for the construction of Park Range office at Neptangkha that was funded by the World Bank.

Tshering Dorji