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Letters of comfort and bank guarantees reach almost €1.5 billion

Lack of control over free childcare service providers

Letters of comfort and bank guarantees, being potential dues by government, reached almost €1.5 billion, according to the Annual Audit Report on the Public Accounts for 2015 which the Auditor General presented to Speaker Anġlu Farrugia today.

It comprises 21 reports on the operations of various ministries, departments and other government entities, including an analysis of the Financial Report 2015.

Following a detailed analysis of the Financial Report, the National Audit Office (NAO) also noted that:

* substantial excess of expenditure over budgeted figures was once again reported;

* some of the outstanding advances issued in favour of third parties, totalling approximately €69.4 million, will continue to be repaid out of an annual budgetary provision;

* following the enactment of the Government Borrowing and Public Debt Management Act, a number of measures will be implemented thereby introducing a risk management framework with supporting Information Technology systems, together with a code-of-conduct and conflict-of-interest rules; and

* to date, six Draft International Public Sector Auditing Standards (IPSAS), as adopted by the government, have been published, being part of government’s strategy to prepare for the full implementation in central government of accrual accounting.

The report said that an audit on the Free Childcare Scheme, recently introduced by the Ministry for Education, revealed lack of control over the service providers. The implementation of a fully automated attendance recording system beginning 2016 only translated into a new set of risks, which still resulted in significant undue payments.

It noted that attendance records maintained by the Foundation for Educational Services were considered unreliable. No evidence was obtained to confirm that payroll was adequately verified prior to processing and that overtime was approved before it was performed.

The full report may be read in the pdf link below.

Attached files

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