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Nepal Tourism Board fails to get its transactions audited, again

  • Lack of accounting staff and backlog of unaudited transactions delayed the submission of account details to the Office of Auditor General, says CEO Joshi
- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Mar 26, 2019-

The Nepal Tourism Board has once again failed to get its transaction details of the fiscal year 2017-18 audited by the Office of Auditor General, in what looks like a tradition it has maintained for the last few years.

The board had a budget of Rs1.35 billion in the fiscal year 2017-18— more than  Rs1 billion of the budget was earmarked for tourism promotion. But due to lack of auditing, whether the board followed due procedure while conducting its financial transactions remains unknown.

The OAG, which is preparing to finalise its 56th annual report, said the board failed to submit its books of account of the fiscal year 2017-18 even after repeated notice.

“We followed up with the Nepal Tourism Board two or three times asking it to submit its account records without any success,” said OAG Spokesperson Bishnu  Prasad Rijal.

The board had responded to the OAG notice saying that it was still conducting its internal audit.

The board does not have good track record when it comes to auditing. It had delayed getting its fiscal transactions audited in the previous years as well.

After the tenure of the board’s former CEO Prachanda Man Shrestha completed in October 2011, the board had remained leaderless for nearly two years.

In July 2013, Subash Nirola was appointed the acting CEO. Ever since he took over, the board has delayed sending its account details for auditing.

In 2015, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed a case at the Special Court against Nirola, charging him of irregularities. He was convicted in February 2018.

According to the 55th annual report of the OAG released last year, the board started delaying submission of its books of account for auditing from the fiscal year 2012-13, a tradition that continues till this day.

After repeated follow-up from the OAG, the board got its transactions from the fiscal year 2013-14 to the fiscal year 2015-16 audited last fiscal year. But, once again, it delayed submitting the transaction records of the fiscal year 2016-17 for auditing.

The board officials admit that they failed to submit the transaction details to the OAG in time due to long auditing backlog of past fiscal years. According to them, it took them time to collect all the documents, some of which were in possession of the CIAA for investigation.

Ever since the CIAA filed a case against 23-high ranking officials of the board, including Nirola and its accounting staff in April 2015, the board has lacked staff dedicated to maintaining accounts.

“The lack of dedicated accounting staff for more than two years following the corruption case hampered our account keeping. Getting the transactions of past several years audited also contributed to the delay,” said the board’s CEO Deepak Raj Joshi.

He has assured that the board will get all its fiscal transactions audited in time from next fiscal year.

Meanwhile, the OAG says that the board is also yet to get clearance on a number of anomalies shown by the 55th audit report.  

For example, the board’s books of account of the fiscal year 2014-15 had shown its bank balance at Rs 115.1 million, while the bank statement showed a balance of only Rs5.2 million. The board had also shown an additional balance of Rs386.3 million in another bank, but it failed to show the bank statement.

That same fiscal year, the board had made advance payments of Rs54.93 million to 21 agencies during the final days of the fiscal year, but the payments were mentioned as expenditure, not as advance payments.

In the fiscal year 2013-14, the board had also paid service fees to various airlines and firms and remunerations to its staff without deducing advance income tax (tax deducted at source) amounting to Rs6.73 million as per the law.

“We are not sure whether the board addressed these issues raised by our report as they have not submitted the details,” said a senior OAG official.

Published: 26-03-2019 08:43

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