The latest Auditor General’s Report raises serious queries about several government annual statements over accounts and financial statements, The Business Weekly & Review has established.
According to the Annual Statements of Accounts (ASA) for the financial year ended 31st March 2020, P3 463 470 124 shown as the value of investments from special funds is misstated as at 31st March 2020. The report says a payment of P900 566 097 made to the Liquidator of BCL from public debt service purported to be a loan is included under investments from special accounts although there is no evidence for it.
The report says some of the special accounts are not accounted for. In Statement No.10 accounts on special funds, the AG report notes that the “National Petroleum Fund account was not availed for audit.” Similarly, Alcohol Levy funds were not availed for audit.
According to the report, the remittances account was overdrawn by P22 653 473.44 in the General Ledger. Against this background, the AG says outstanding reconciliation dates to as far as 2005. “Of the unreconciled receipts of P2 905 855 817 in the Salaries Account bank reconciliation, P1 656 430 097 (was) for the financial year ended 2005,” reads the report.
In similar fashion, payments amounting to P2 111 451 304 in the bank statement and P2 185 933 025 in the General Ledger have not been reconciled. The AG notes that the emergence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused uncertainties in the global economy.
“The significant change in the fiscal landscape has triggered huge decline in revenues, while there was a surge in expenditure due to emergency measures taken to contain the pandemic,” it says. “Its debilitating effects are being felt in all facets of life, while its evolution remains unpredictable. It is therefore plausible that the aftereffects of the pandemic will continue to put pressure on the government budget going forward.”
Botswana’s P11.10 billion deficit
According the report, the country hit a deficit as it spent more than it could generate during the COVID-19 recession. “The overall fiscal balance for the 2019/20 financial year was a deficit of P11.10 billion,” it says. “The financial year was characterised by a decrease in total revenues and grants, while total expenditure and net lending performed almost as expected in the revised budget.”
Depicting the financial challenges of the country, the Auditor General’s Report reveals that total revenues and grants decreased by P6.41 billion. “Total Revenues and Grants decreased by P6.41 billion, or 10.56 percent, from a revised budget of P60.71 billion, compared to the actual amount of P54.30 billion,” it says. “Customs and Excise, VAT and the Bank of Botswana revenue performed satisfactorily, while mineral revenue and non-mineral revenue underperformed against their respective revised budgets.”
Total expenditure and net lending was 95 percent of its 2019/20 revised budget with recurrent expenditure at P58.81 billion, a slight increase of P131 million from its revised budget. The report says development expenditure performed at 80 percent of its revised budget spending at P13.63 billion against P17.03 billion in the revised budget