Nuusita Ashipala Eenhana-Members of the National Council Public Accounts Committee this week travelled to the northern regions so that the leadership of the Ohangwena Regional Council and the Oshakati Town Council could explain concerns raised by the Auditor General in the Audit Reports of the respective institutions’ finances. The Auditor General’s report for the Oshakati Town Council downgraded the council’s financial reports from a previous “qualified opinion” to an “adverse opinion”, which is a red flag that something is not right with the financial books. For the Ohangwena Region, the Auditor General raised an alarm that the regional council has been budgeting without accounting for its spending, and not producing financial statements on time for the last three years. Financial statements dating back to 2006 are still outstanding. The Parliamentarians wanted Oshakati Chief Executive Officer, Werner Iita, to explain why the Auditor General found a figure of N$99.6 million that could not be reconciled between the bank reconciliation and the annual financial statements. The report also highlighted a difference of N$12.8 million between VAT receivable balance and VAT reconciliation. Red flags were also raised after the interest proceeds from the Oshakati Premier Electric were not properly accounted, while the Auditor General also found that crucial documents needed to qualify the audit were not submitted. Iita told the committee that the council had started compiling its own financial reports, but it lacks adequate skills in the area. Previously, the town council had hired a consultant to compile the financial reports. “I believe the mistakes arose because we did the records ourselves because we are still learning,” said Iita. Regarding the unaccounted interests fro Oshakati Premier Electric, Iita explained that the errors emanated from wrong postings in the financial records. These errors resulted in the Auditor General downgrading Oshakati’s audit from a qualified opinion to an adverse opinion. Iita said the correction to that effect has already been done and document proof would be provided to the committee. The council has 14 days from the hearing to present proof to the committee. The Ohangwena Regional Council has not submitted financial reports since 2006 when Daniel Kashikola served as the chief regional officer. In 2015, President Hage Geingob appointed Kashikola as the Deputy Minister of Safety and Security. Since then the position of regional chief officer (CRO) has been vacant for three years with a new CRO only set to start on March 1. Acting Chief Regional Officer (CRO) Fillipus Shilongo, who was appointed only recently, told the National Council Public Accounts Committee that the delay in producing financial records promptly in recent years was because of an extended backlog. Shilongo also told the parliamentarians that apart from a backlog; the council was also struggling to use the accounting system that is in place. National Council Public Accounts Committee Peter Kazongominja was not amused by Shilongo’s response. Kazongominja said it was wrong for the council to continue spending money in the absence of the financial records. “The money you are dealing with is public money and it shows that nobody knows whether the money spent over the previous years was rightly or wrongly used,” remarked the chairman. The seven members of the committee are Kazongominja, vice chair Phillip Shikongo, Joseph Mupetami, Gerhard Shiimi, Lonia Kaishungu, Cornelius Kanguatjivi, and John Likando.
New Era Reporter
2018-02-23 09:17:40 8 months ago