In its findings on the anti-Covid spending audit, the Auditors Court found that expenditure management lagged behind the State budget. Finance ministry responded to the jurisdiction’s observation, which does not sway from its position.
Auditors reported that Covid-19 domestic expenditures “were frequently implemented on the edges of the Government budget since they were disbursed from Treasury POs.” According to the Board of Auditors, Treasury OPs are an unusual mechanism for disbursing public monies assigned to temporary allocation pools to be regularized by mandate for distribution to the budget once the corresponding appropriations are opened.
The interim report includes replies from the Economy Minister as well as the Minister of Finance. It ruled on the fiscal handling of OP Trésor’s Covid-19 disbursements through December 31, 2021.
In his statement, the Minister cites “the volatility of theCOVID-19 crisis, national health emergency, and the pandemic management committee’s reaction measures” According to the Minister, these circumstances led the Council of Ministers to advance monies to various entities and regularize them inside the banking institution once supporting documentation are ready.
The minister says that most expenses are too sensitive and urgent to avoid the special procedure. To ensure financial transparency, the Finance ministry designated the Assistant Secretary of Cabinet and later the Deputy Financial Controller accountable for verifying all expenditures before payment. The minister’s response: “He guarantees public order protocols are followed.”
The national treasurer notes that Treasury OPs issued in the framework of Covid-19 are handled as cash payments and recorded in relevant imputation accounts pending regularization.
Despite the minister’s answers, the Board of Auditors stood firm. “The Court reiterates that any release of monies without budget authorization remains an operation outside the State budget,” the financial jurisdiction wrote.