Bosnia Auditor Gives High-Spending Ministries Low Marks

Three ministries have received poor ratings from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Audit Agency for failing to control or document out-of-control expenses.On telephone conversations alone, Bosnia’s Foreign Ministry spent 1.5 million Bosnian convertible marks, BAM, or roughly €750,000, the audit agency said.

Of the 71 institutions financed from the state budget, the Foreign, Defence, and Human Rights and Refugees ministries, all received low marks from the auditors.Auditors voiced alarm about the three ministries’ failure to accurately and completely document and rationalize expenses.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not established a reliable mechanism for tracking business travel and travel expenses with respect to the actual function and tasks of the institutions, without a clear plan and program recognizing and justifying costs incurred on official trips,” Milenko Sego, the Auditor General, said.

Sego specifically cited the ministry’s high phone bill as well as 1.8 million convertible marks run up in travel expenses.

Sego said the ministry spent the money “without thinking,” which he said was confirmed by vehicle maintenance costs totaling 275,000 BAM, fuel costs of 422,000 BAM, and entertainment expenses exceeding 750,000 BAM.

None of these costs come with corresponding records or the documentation is incomplete. “We have drawn attention to this,” said Sego.

Last year all 71 institutions spent 902,492,572 BAM. Most of the money went on salaries and benefits, 522,424 875 KM, 2.7 per cent up on 2010.

Auditors cited several irregularities, including insufficient internal controls, high consumption of resources, use and maintenance of official vehicles, postal costs, contracts of work and other types of compensation.

However, Sego said all institutions had made great strides since the audit process began 12 years ago.

“In 2000 the situation was alarming. There were no records. If we observe the period from then until now, there has been tremendous progress,” he said.

But the auditor-in-chief said that not enough is being done with the results of the audit reports, and that the onus is now on the State Parliament, the Council of Ministers, the Prosecutor’s Office and others to conduct further investigations.

“As far as enforcing … disciplinary responsibility, in the past there were very few such cases,” he noted.

“Where criminal responsibility is concerned, there have been some investigations, and auditors of the Audit Office were summoned to the State Prosecution and the SIPA [State Investigation and Protection Agency] to clarify certain findings and recommendations,” he added.

He said an important role of civil society was to hold its leaders to account.

Check Also

Turkey’s self-made currency crisis

Following the resignation of the finance minister and his replacement by a loyalist on Dec. …