Auditor General: Somalia cannot account for more than 96 million dollars

Auditor General: Somalia cannot account for more than 96 million dollars

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia’s government cannot account for more than $96 million earmarked for the 2021 fiscal year, an auditor general report has revealed, hinting at massive misappropriation and possible misappropriation of funds under the regime that left power earlier this year.

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

“More than 96 million dollars missed from the government’s coffers, including 21 million dollars of which was taken as a loan from the central bank in 2021 and it is not informed to his office,” said Mohamed Ali Afgoi, in what now provides a glimpse of waste and corruption within the government.

The 96 million was together with $14.6 million in interest that the Treasury had borrowed from the central bank and the International Monetary Fund [IMF], one of Somalia’s experienced lenders. The Auditor General has now called for special investigations to uncover the mystery behind the “disappearance” of the money.

Furthermore, the auditor general also flagged concession agreements worth $28 million signed between the government and two Turkish companies. Afgoi noted that he could not ascertain whether the free is really stated in terms of amounts to be paid and collected, making it difficult for his team to reconcile the expenditure.

The Ministry of Finance was also unable to produce accurate records of cash transfers to three institutions, among them Banadir Local Government which hosts Mogadishu. The disputed amount linked to the three institutions in 2021 was $16.9 million, according to the auditor general.

Somalia’s government has often failed to explain spending with the previous administration of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in place for failing to account for millions of dollars mainly from external coffers, which are indispensable to the country’s economy.

Although such reports have been made in the past, it is not clear what action would be taken by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration, which is also off to a bad start given gross human rights abuses including the harassment of journalists playing as a public watchdog.

It is not the first time the auditor general has presented an incriminating report that would trigger caution from outside funders who have often called for caution in spending government resources. Over 80 percent of the country’s budget is financed by international partners including lenders.

Last week, the government approved a $967.7 million budget for fiscal year 2023, with the Treasury noting that over $250 million would come from domestic revenue. The country has often struggled to raise 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 taxed civilians to fund their $100 million annual budget. But the government has stepped up surveillance, including monitoring Al-Shabaab’s sources of income.

Government departments are under pressure from international coffers to account for their spending and the latest revelations could significantly affect the relationship with the international community that the government has accused of mass waste and corruption often cited by the auditor-general.

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