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2014 should be better!

Mon, 13 January 2014 00:30
by Walter Barth
Columns

Dear readers, may the new year bring you joy, happiness, health and success in whatever you endevour to do.
His Excellency, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, recently reiterated that any acts of corruption can be sent to his office and if need be, he should be personally contacted.
This is a noble intention but it may not be as easy to carry out as it may sound. For starters, reporting such acts to him would be a tedious process as there is no direct line to him, which is understandable. Many such reports do not hold any water and can create a wild goose chase, as I have experienced during my tenure as Deputy Auditor-General.
If you have a case, make sure you have sufficient, reliable and relevant evidence to support it. The Office of the Auditor-General as well as the Ombudsman’s can also be informed of such incidents.
2013 is gone and dusted and in the course of it, we saw a lot of bad books at local authorities, regional councils and ministries. There were a few bright stars among them, though. Let’s hope we can increase those stars.
Many issues are not that difficult to address and if need be, a seminar or information session can be arranged for accounting staff on how to address these issues, to ensure a clean audit report. An information session can also be arranged for councilors to make sure they understand their mission and what management information they should require from their administrative staff, to ensure accountability and the proper execution of the tasks at hand. It would be nice to see improvements in our country in this regard.
Other issues have been mentioned but have never been properly addressed, such as the feasibility of Air Namibia on which an audit report had been made available.
 The Auditor-General carried out a special investigation on Air Namibia and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), to determine their feasibility. These facts have been mentioned in the report of the Auditor-General in his summarised report on the Government for the financial year ended 31 March 2007.
He also carried out an investigation as instructed by the President, which dealt with the lost N$660m of the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF). The investigation was based on the report submitted by Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) in 2006 on which little action seems to have taken place. The audit report was submitted to the President in December 2010 and one can only hope it will assist in dealing with the issue.
This year will hopefully be an interesting one. The financial audit report on the books of the Government is due to be tabled. The last report reflected a qualified audit opinion, which was not a good reflection. Maybe the Ministry of Finance found ways to address this issue?
Then there are the books of our capital city, Windhoek. The last tabled audit report, according to the Auditor-General’s website, was on the 2007/08 financial year. The Act requires local authorities to close their financial years on 30 June each year and their financial statements should be ready for auditing by the end of October each year. It would, as such, appear that the reports for the past four years are still outstanding. This is not a healthy situation.
There should also be a number of interesting performance audit reports coming up. One which was tabled in the previous year dealt with the administration of Government student loans in the Ministry of Education. This might be an interesting topic as past experiences have shown controls in this area are lacking.
Overall, looking forward to an interesting year with lots of improvements on the accountability and transparency side.