Dechen Dolkar  

Of Nu 2.051 billion (B) in irregularities reported in the Annual Audit Report (AAR) 2020, Nu 18.373 million (M) were paid as excess and inadmissible payments.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson and National Council MP from Paro, Ugyen Tshering presented the PAC’s review report of AAR 2020 at the joint sitting of Parliament yesterday.

Ugyen Tshering said that there were 21 cases of outstanding advances worth Nu 175.852M in the AAR 2020.

The works and human settlement ministry has the highest amount of outstanding advances amounting to Nu 161.123M constituting approximately 91.62 percent of the total outstanding advances.

Dramedtse Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi said that in every audit report they noticed the issues of excess payment and advance payments.

He said that such issues can be avoided and resolved in future if the agencies can strictly implement them.

Ugyen Tshering said that there were many instances where the agency concerned has failed to follow up to enforce the judgment passed by the courts.

He said that the concern agencies often remain complacent particularly when the guilty party is at large.

The chairperson also pointed out that this is a common and recurring lapse where the implementing agencies failed to levy liquidated damages for delaying the completion of work.

There are 10 cases of short or non-levy of liquidated damages reflected in AAR 2020 amounting to Nu 45.812M.

Four cases amounting to Nu 0.998M were reflected under acceptance or non-rectification of defective works.

Ugyen Tshering said that Tashicholing drungkhag had accepted defective works of Nu 0.880M followed by Nganglam drungkhag with Nu 0.118M.  

Ten cases worth Nu 16.762M have been reflected in AAR 2020 for the payment of expenditure for works or materials not executed or received incompletion of works.

Six cases of wasteful expenditure worth Nu 19.291M were reflected in AAR 2020. Among gewogs, Sangagcholing in Samtse has the highest amount of wasteful expenditure worth Nu 8.870M.

NC eminent member Phuntsho Rapten said that most excess payments were for the construction of walls.

He said that the walls are constructed to protect landslides and during the monsoon, the walls are being washed away which is a wasteful expenditure.

The general observation was that while the auditees would have taken action on the relevant irregularities, they failed to follow up with the RAA. RAA on the other hand also failed to update the same and hence the cases are often reflected as unresolved.

The committee also observed that there are many instances where the accused parties go missing during the court proceedings and the concerned agencies do not make adequate efforts to trace the accountable persons. 

PAC recommendations 

PAC recommended the executive enforce the judgments and institute mechanisms to hold the agencies accountable. The committee’s second recommendation was that the heads of the agencies have to take up the responsibility to assume full accountability for any audit irregularities or observations.

The House assigned the two recommendations to the government for implementation with instructions to submit a report on the status of the execution of judgments of courts in the Joint Sitting of the next session.

The third recommendation was on heads of agencies to take up the responsibility to assume full accountability for any audit irregularities or observations was assigned to the RAA with majority support of the House through a show of hands.

The deliberation on the PAC report will continue today.