Audit reveals mismatch between NTB’s financial, bank statements

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu
Audit reveals mismatch between NTB’s financial, bank statements

Jun 2, 2014-

The annual financial statement of the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) does not match its bank statement, a preliminary report of the Office of the Auditor General has revealed.

The audit report for 2012-13 shows that there is a massive difference between the NTB’s financial statement and the bank statement. However, the amount has not been mentioned in the report.

According to the audit report, the NTB has been depositing its money in its current accounts in various banks, and it has not chosen banks on the basis of the best interest rates.

The report has said that the NTB has not maintained transparency while purchasing goods. It has not been obtaining estimates for the goods it buys and has been paying the suppliers based on their final quotation.

“It is difficult to compare the actual cost of the goods and the rates charged by the suppliers as the NTB does not make any estimates,” said the report.  “This shows that there is no transparency in the procurement process.”

Likewise, the agreement between the NTB and the suppliers used to procure goods in the last fiscal year was found to have been signed in the previous fiscal year. The NTB has been found to have purchased goods worth more than Rs 500,000 from a single supplier at different times in violation of the Public Procurement Act.

Interestingly, the auditor general’s report shows that the country’s tourism promotion body released Rs 5,000 to Nawa Janaprahar weekly for publishing tourism promotional matter while its financial statement shows that it paid Rs 500,000, raising questions where the rest of the money has gone.

The board has also violated the tax regime affecting the country’s revenue collection.

The report said that the NTB had not deducted 15 percent tax on its payments under the Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) provision causing losses in the amount of Rs 527,235 to the government.

Similarly, the NTB has been found to have spent more than 234 percent of its actual budget on its international promotional programmes.

However, the excess spending had not been approved by its board. For example, in a sales mission to India, the actual budget allocated was Rs 6 million while the NTB has shown spending of Rs 8.25 million.

Likewise, the NTB has been found to be preparing separate financial statements of its regional offices. The board has recruited 35 interns instead of filling its 12 vacant posts. NTB officials said that the interns received remuneration and they were affiliated to various political leaders and bureaucrats.

The interns are paid Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 per month as meal allowances resulting in a financial burden to the board of Rs 7 million annually. Earlier, there was no provision for paying interns, and they used to be selected under the recommendation of various travel and tourism colleges.

Travel trade entrepreneurs had conducted an agitation for more than a month against the irregularities at the NTB. Its amended Financial Bylaws that have upset the tourism industry have given the NTB’s chief executive exclusive rights to spend freely in excess of the limit set by the Public Procurement Act.

The bylaws also allow the board to award contracts without competitive bidding even though the act says that tenders should be called before doing so.

Published: 03-06-2014 09:02

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