Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Federal Auditor says it can’t audit intelligence, security forces’ expenses

The Federal Auditor General could not verify if taxpayers’ money allotted to institutions at the country’s security apparatus was spent properly.
Among revenue collection, payment and procurement errors the Auditor General probed during last fiscal year across the Federal Government hierarchy, one says three leading security institutions could not back their expenses with evidence and subsequent efforts to verify the payments didn’t bear fruit.
According to a 35-page report submitted to the House of Peoples’ Representatives on Thursday, the Ministry of Defense expense amounting 1.87 billion birr could not be verified by the Federal Auditor General.
The report comes as MP Girma Seifu, chairman of the House’s Budgetary and Finance Affairs Standing Committee, expresses concern over the army’s expense source for its operation in Somalia.
“How much are we spending for the mission and where is it coming from? Since at the start of the fiscal year parliament did not approve any budget for a mission in Somalia, if the expense is being paid from the federal government the executive needs to table a supplementary budget proposal or explain where the money is coming from,” said the solitary opposition MP Girma in February.
Information Network Security Agency (INSA) and Main Department for Immigration and Nationality Affairs are the two government organs along the Defense Ministry which could not be audited against some of their expenditures.
INSA spent 54.25 million birr that cannot be verified.
Main Department for Immigration and Nationality Affairs spent about 50 million birr which the Federal Auditor General cannot account for.
According to the Federal Auditor’s report, the payments are said to be made for salaries, fuel, transport and other costs. The Auditor’s requests to get details to verify the expenses were largely unheeded.
The Defense Ministry however wrote to the Auditor General that the details are sensitive information that could entail security risks and therefore cannot be transferred, even in the future, according to the report.
The report similarly criticized a number of government organizations for making a purchase without following the government’s procurement procedure. INSA, Mekelle and Bahir Dar universities are among such institutions who failed to abide by government procurement guidelines when they spent tax payers’ money, according to the report presented during Thursday’s session.
The House during the session approved the federal government’s supplementary budget request.
The Federal government asked parliament for a 4 billion birr more. The approved budget further stretches the record 117.8 billion birr budget approved last July.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) says the four billion birr it wants to disburse is already secured by additional revenues, downplaying concerns that more public expenditure could further exacerbate the current rampant inflation.
Crucial amendments made to the tax law in October 2010 introduced a windfall taxation that has hit commercial banks who had made unprecedented gains because of the devaluation of birr. The banks subsequently have paid in tax 75 percent of the profits they made. It is from such income MoFED says the supplementary budget comes.
Of the 4 billion birr the approved supplementary budget, 3 billion would go to road projects. One billion is to go to expansion projects being undertaken in various universities including in Addis Ababa, Ambo, Adigrat, Hossaena, Woldiya, Debre Tabor, Metu, Wolkite, Bule Hora and Assosa cities as such projects in the universities are said to suffer financially.