Audit: The government last year paid Nu 9.6 million (M) in excess salaries and government provident fund (GPF) remittances made to National Pension and Provident Fund (NPPF) from the payrolls of budgetary agencies.

This was uncovered when the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) conducted a separate audit on “government payroll and provident fund”, and the report has been included in the RAA’s annual report 2014.

The excess payments were made in double salaries to civil servants during transfer from one agency to another, payments made beyond permitted time during extra-ordinary leave (EOL) and salaries paid to employees who had separated from service.

Double salaries and excess payment of GPF remittances amounted to Nu 8M. The agencies had disbursed double salaries of Nu 6.689M to employees during transfer from one agency to another. This had also resulted in excess remittance of GPF amounting to Nu 1.367M in respect of those employees.

Such lapses, the RAA pointed out had occurred due to lapses within the public expenditure management system (PEMS).

The agencies had made inadmissible payment of salaries to employees during EOL and long term studies amounting to Nu 0.49M in deviation to BCSR 2012. This had also resulted in remittance of excess contribution of GPF amounting to Nu 0.156M.

The RAA said, “The payments were made in deviation to the Bhutan civil service rules (BCSR) 2012.”

Chapter 10 of the BCSR states that a civil servant on study leave with pay for any single long-term training will be paid the full basic pay for one year, after which he or she will be entitled to 50 percent of the basic pay for the remaining period.

Nu 0.813M was also disbursed as pay and allowances to employees separated from the civil service and GPF during the year.

“Based on the review, the RAA found that there were huge discrepancies apparently emanating from control weaknesses in the PEMS in fixing and disbursing the personnel emoluments during transfer, training, extraordinary leave and separation of employees,” the report states.

However, director general of the public accounts department, Choiten Wangchuk, said that the finance ministry has provided clarifications to all the issues highlighted in the report. “We have responded to all the issues raised by the RAA,” he said, adding that some of the issues arose due to technical problems.

The audit report states that the lapses had also apparently occurred due to poor coordination between the human resource division and the accounts division in terms of regulating the emoluments of employees on EOL and study leave.

In contravention to the NPPF Rules and Regulations and the BCSR 2012, the report also highlights that various agencies had recovered and remitted GPF against the contract employees to the NPPF.

There were also anomalies in pay fixation in respect of two officials of two agencies, which resulted in payment of excess salaries and GPF remittances amounting to Nu 73,000.

The RAA recommended that a robust coordination between human resource and accounts divisions should be developed for cross verification of correctness in the system as per HR records. It also recommended that manual preparation of payroll through accounts module should be discontinued and payroll module should be used.

MB Subba