Lockdowns scuttle production of audit reports

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Accountants gather accounting data and report it in a standard format of the trial balance, profit and loss accounts, balance sheet and cash flows

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA

COVID-19 lockdowns delayed crucial audits by the Auditor-General (AG) into parastatals, some of which have been hard hit by massive graft, Parliament has heard.

Public Accounts Committee (Pac) chairperson Brian Dube said before the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, the AG was up to date with her reports, but failed to continue operating after most institutions were placed under lockdown to contain the spread of the respiratory disease.

“The Audit Office was not spared by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic whose outbreak brought about serious disruptions to the people’s way of life,” the Dube said.

“This was followed by a total lockdown nationwide of 21 days in which only workers who provided essential services were allowed to report for work. The Audit Office did not fall in the category of essential services. As such, staff from the office could not report for duty.”

Several other sectors were also affected by the lockdowns.

He added: “The AG submitted that during this time, ministries had started submitting their financial statements for audit. However, no audits for the 2019 financial year had been conducted from March to May which is the normal peak period before the office sends its reports to Printflow for printing.”

“It was only when the lockdown was relaxed on May 20, 2020 that skeletal staff were allowed to attend work to provide essential services that the audits began in earnest. This was practically late for the office to meet the June 30 deadline.”

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