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GSD questions ‘serious’ cash book anomalies at Culture Ministry

The GSD has called on the Gibraltar Government to explain “serious” anomalies and inconsistencies in cash books at the Ministry for Sports, Culture, Heritage and Youth.

In a statement the GSD asks No. 6 Convent Place to explain why matters were left to deteriorate so badly at the Ministry that an audit inspection by the Principal Auditor led to very serious concerns being expressed.

That inspection apparently revealed anomalies and inconsistencies in cash books, in payment vouchers and multiple discrepancies in leave files.

The concerns expressed include the fact that "the management and maintenance of the Ministry's cash book process was below acceptable standards", that discrepancies in payment vouchers included "a double payment" of a substantial sum in relation to the set-up costs of a company providing a service to the Ministry, and a number of incorrect annual leave records.

The GSD highlighted observations made by the Principal Auditor in relation to the Cash Book and Payment Vouchers.

This includes: "I explained to the SEO that the Ministry’s cash books for the financial year 2014-15 were unavailable for audit inspection; that cash and cheques banked were recorded in separate excel worksheets, making it laborious to monitor the revenue running balance; and at the close of the audit inspection the closing cash book balances did not reconcile with the corresponding records in the centralised Treasury Accounting System.”

“I further informed the SEO that substantial sums credited to the Ministry’s bank account during the financial year 2015-16 had not been accounted for in the cash book; a receipt had not been issued in respect of a payment received and was not recorded in the cash book nor in the Treasury Accounting System; and cash books had not been submitted to Treasury on a timely basis.”

“I expressed my deep concern at the anomalies and inconsistencies, which clearly demonstrate that the management and maintenance of the Ministry’s cash book process was below acceptable standards and was not, in my view, receiving the required attention and importance that it demanded. I recommended to him that officers responsible should liaise with the Treasury Department so that they obtain a comprehensive understanding of Government Accounting Instructions and accounting procedures.”

In respect of Payment Vouchers, the Principal Auditor said: “I brought to the SEO’s attention that an examination of a sample of PVs with a view to verify the adequacy regarding the preparation, maintenance and compliance with relevant Government instructions and proper charge revealed a number of inconsistencies, such as misallocations between recurrent expenditure subheads and between recurrent and capital expenditure; delays in passing invoices to the Treasury Department for payment; a double payment of a substantial sum in relation to the set-up costs of a company providing a service to the Ministry; overpayments of VAT included in an invoice, which should not have been paid; three overpayments; a bank payment to the wrong company; and articles not purchased from the approved tender suppliers."

Daniel Feetham, the Leader of the Opposition, said: “These are serious anomalies and it begs the question what kind of systems were in place at the time in this Ministry to safeguard the interests of the taxpayer.”

“While the report notes that the CEO was taking steps to rectify the situation, Government owes people an explanation and an assurance that this is not going to happen again. Post Brexit we need to be even more careful with the people's money. We look forward to hearing what the Government has to say about this.”