Appointed Director of Audit last May, Dharamraj Paligadu is no fool. In his first report, tabled Tuesday in the National Assembly, he highlights dozens of shortcomings and notes laxity that costs taxpayers billions of rupees. He considers financial management too amateurish and argues that performance management needs to be improved.

“To improve accountability in the public sector, financial management must be professionalized and the performance management system must be improved,” says Dharamraj Paligadu, Director of Audit, in his foreword.

“As the Director of Audit, it is my duty to provide the National Assembly and the general public with information on achieving value for money regarding essential services provided to citizens, because every year , the government spends billions of rupees on these services,” he says.

And first remark: “Despite spending some 178 billion rupees for the 2022-2023 financial year, there are delays in the implementation of essential service projects which have caused harm to the population”.

He cites two examples to illustrate his point. The first concerns the immense number of drain projects which have not yet become reality. “Eighty-six percent of the drain projects entrusted to the National Development Unit have not yet been implemented during the 2022-2023 financial year,” he denounces.

The second example cited is the Internet Connectivity Project which “has not yet been implemented in secondary schools although it was initiated a long time ago”.

The Director of Audit draws the attention of the National Assembly and those responsible for public sector governance to the fact that an analysis of the main findings for the 2022-2023 financial year “revealed that a mechanism “Inadequate accountability at different levels within government ministries and departments is the root cause of the recurrence of the same problems reported over the last three financial years.”

83% of ministries do not respect the law

The Director of Audit notes that more than three-quarters of ministries are in violation of the law.

“As of January 12, 2024, 83% of government ministries and departments have failed to comply with section 4B of the Finance and Audit Act in relation to submitting their performance report within the statutory deadlines, while 57% set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were not achieved,” he criticizes.

Over the past three financial years, the National Audit Bureau has repeatedly reported the following issues, among others, within government ministries and departments:

  • Weaknesses in expenditure control.
  • Deficiencies in project management.
  • Shortcomings in purchasing management.
  • Deficiencies in asset management.
  • Non-compliance with applicable laws.

That 33% of the problems raised in the previous report resolved

The Director of Audit has not only unearthed problems in different government ministries and departments. It also followed up on 168 issues raised in the audit report of last year, i.e. for the financial year 2021-22.

This demonstrates that as of February 2024, “around 33% had been resolved at the level of government ministries and departments, leaving 67% partially resolved or unresolved.”

Worse still, “problems highlighted in previous years were seen again in the 2022-23 financial year. An analysis of the findings revealed that the root causes for the recurrence of these problems are inadequate accountability mechanism and monitoring system at different levels in government ministries and departments.” From his point of view, we absolutely must act and very quickly.

Summary of main audit findings and reform proposals

In his report, the Audit Director draws five main conclusions:

  • Inadequacy of the existing legal framework for an effective control mechanism on the subsidies of approximately Rs 28.2 billion granted to parapublic organizations, local authorities and the Rodrigues Regional Assembly for the 2022-23 financial year.
  • Significant delays in the implementation of projects regarding the provision of essential services, thereby affecting the lives of citizens.
  • Insufficient oversight at the level of government ministries and departments over the implementation of investment projects by other public sector bodies under their authority, thereby leading to delays in project delivery and poor contract management.
  • Limiting the scope of the National Audit Bureau's audit to determine whether public funds disbursed to private entities are used for purposes intended by the National Assembly.
  • The audit committee was not meeting its objectives and the risk management framework was not developed.
  • Three reform proposals:
  • In addition to the findings, Dharamraj Paligadu, Director of Audit, formulates three major reform proposals which are essential in his eyes to improve the management of projects and government finances.
  • Government ministries and departments should prepare their annual report including financial statements prepared in accordance with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) as well as a performance report, to be submitted to the National Assembly
  • Government ministries and departments should prepare their annual report including financial statements prepared in accordance with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) as well as a performance report, to be submitted to the National Assembly once audited.
  • The professionalization of financial management in government ministries and departments.
  • The development of a code of good governance for government ministries and departments which will improve confidence in public administration.

In his report, the Director of Audit further specifies that “an emphasis on good governance can help public sector organizations improve their performance, while meeting demanding standards of public accountability. To achieve this, however, governance must not simply be seen as a requirement for narrow compliance, but there must be commitment from all civil servants”

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