Auditor General: Somalia cannot account for over $96 million

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - The government of Somalia cannot account for over $96 million meant for the fiscal year 2021, a report by the Auditor General has revealed, which gives a hint of massive misappropriation and possible embezzlement of funds during the reign of the regime which left power earlier this year.

In the report published by Mohamed Ali Afgoi, details show that among the money missing is $21 million taken as a loan in 2021 without the involvement of the office of the Auditor General, which is responsible for auditing government expenditures independently without interference.

"More than $96 million missed from the government's coffers, including $21 million of it was taken as a loan from the Central Bank in 2021 and it is not informed to his office," Mohamed Ali Afgoi said, in what now gives a glimpse of wastage and corruption within the government.

The $96 million were along with $14.6 million interest which the Ministry of Finance had borrowed from the Central Bank and International Monetary Fund [IMF], one of the seasoned lenders of Somalia. The Auditor General has now called for special investigations to unearth the mystery behind the "disappearance" of the money.

Further, Auditor General also flagged concession deals worth $28 million signed between the government and two Turkish companies. Afgoi noted that he could not establish if the free is genuinely stated in terms of amounts due and collected, making it difficult for his team to reconcile the expenditures.

The Ministry of Finance could also not table proper records on cash transfers to three institutions among them Banadir's local government which hosts Mogadishu. The amount in dispute which was wired to the three institutions in 2021 was $16.9 million according to the Auditor General.

The government of Somalia has often failed to explain expenditures with the previous administration of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo being on spot for failure to account for millions of dollars mainly from external coffers, who are indispensable in the economy of the country.

While such reports have been tabled in the past, it is not clear what actions would be taken by the administration of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, which has also started badly given gross violation of human rights including harassment of journalists who play as a public watchdog.

This is not the first time the Auditor General is tabling an incriminating report which would trigger cautiousness from external funders who have often called for prudence in spending government resources. Over 80 percent of the country's budget is funded by international partners including lenders.

Last week, the cabinet approved a $967.7 million budget for Financial Year 2023, with Treasury noting that over $250 million would come from domestic revenue. The country has often struggled to increase domestic revenue due to weak internal systems including a lack of automation of revenue collection services.

Consequently, the Al-Shabaab extortionists, who are fighting to topple the current fragile UN-backed federal government, have been imposing taxes on civilians to fund their $100 million annual budget. However, the government has heightened surveillance, including monitoring Al-Shabaab revenue sources.

Government departments are under pressure from international coffers to account for their expenditures and the latest revelations could significantly affect the relationship with the international community the government has given mass wastage and corruption which is often cited by the Auditor General.

GAROWE ONLINE

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