Yangon Gov’t Must Answer Auditor General’s Claims: President’s Office

By The Irrawaddy 29 October 2018

YANGON—The Yangon Regional Government must respond to claims in a report by the auditor general that irregularities in spending by the city administration cost the public billions of kyats, the President’s Office spokesperson said on Monday.

The alleged irregularities involved development activities and arranging private bank loans for the purchase of school buses without parliament’s approval, among other things.

At a press conference Monday, The Irrawaddy asked spokesman U Zaw Htay whether the Union government had pressed the Yangon authorities to take responsibility for the report’s findings, which have attracted much public criticism. The report prompted calls for an investigation into the losses, which were exposed during an audit of the region’s fiscal 2016-17 budget.

The report, submitted to the Yangon Parliament in September, has sparked heated debate among local lawmakers. More than two dozen of them went through the findings in Parliament, raising questions about the irregularities and the billions of kyats in public funds the activities reportedly cost the government.

Not a single government minister agreed to attend Parliament to discuss the findings, however.

“According to the procedures, the Yangon government has to respond to the complaints. That has yet to be done. They are required to report back to the auditor general,” the spokesperson said.

According to Union Auditor General’s Office regulations, the Yangon government is required to respond to its audit findings within a “reasonable” period of time—to be set by the auditor general—and to take immediate steps to stop any fraud, misappropriation, waste or losses brought to light by an audit, including any appropriate legal action.

“If their responses don’t satisfy the auditor general, there will be legal penalties,” U Zaw Htay said, adding that this was standard procedure.

In the second week of this month, a former lawmaker filed a complaint with the country’s anti-graft commission calling for an investigation into the losses revealed by the audit.

However, the commission said there was no need for it to investigate the losses yet because the government and auditor general are still working through the procedures that must follow the release of any audit report.

The commission also said it had learned that the Yangon auditor general was closely monitoring the regional government’s adherence to the procedures.