AG’s report on 2020 public accounts highlights shortcomings in procurement, project management

The Auditor-General, Charles Deguara has presented to the Speaker of the House of Representatives the Annual Audit Report on the Public Accounts for 2020


The Auditor-General, Charles Deguara, has presented to the Speaker of the House of Representatives the Annual Audit Report on the Public Accounts for 2020.

It comprises 42 write-ups on the operations of several Government Ministries, Departments and Entities.

This report also includes an analysis of the Financial Report 2020, as well as an overview of the Statements of Arrears of Revenue for the same year, as submitted to Treasury by the respective Ministry, Department and Entity.

The National Audit Office has judiciously analysed the level of compliance of various expenditure and revenue items with prevailing rules and regulations. The Report gives over 350 relevant recommendations which, if implemented by the respective auditee, will address the shortcomings identified during these reviews and thus promote good governance and best practice in Government’s operations.

Some of the key findings identified were the following:

  • Most of the information required for audit purposes was not submitted by the University of Malta and the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality, hindering the scope of expenditure audits carried out. Substantial delays in submitting the required information were also encountered during the audit of the Government Voucher Scheme entrusted to the Malta Investment Management Company Limited.
  • Procurement regulations were bypassed by a number of entities, including Festivals Malta and Malta Digital Innovation Authority. Direct orders approved by the Ministry for Finance, for contractual and professional services were repeatedly resorted to by the Education Department.
  • Shortcomings in the project management by the Housing Maintenance and Embellishment Company Limited were identified. Weaknesses in the planning, procurement process and monitoring of capital assets were also prevalent at the Correctional Services Agency.
  • A weak control environment, together with legislative constraints, hindered the enforcement and revenue collection from the  Energy  Performance  Certificates. An audit of the Service Pension also revealed inadequate controls, leading to substantial overpayments.
  • Verification procedures on the overtime claimed by staff at the Cleansing and Maintenance Division and Aġenzija għall-Ħarsien tat-Tfal were deemed inadequate. Considerable amounts paid for overtime by the former led NAO to question the productivity levels of the claimed hours. An audit at the Foundation for Medical Services revealed several concerns regarding the engagement of officials, as well as irregularities in the appointment of persons on a trust basis.
  • Extravagance in the use of public funds by the Malta Film Commission, coupled with poor budgetary controls led to a negative working capital of over €1 million in 2020.

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