Thursday, October 19, 2017

Laos: Trillion kip spent unlawfully, says the top auditor

By:  Souksakhone Vaenkeo, Vientiane Times, October 19, 2017

VIENTIANE - More than one trillion kip of state spending without approval from the National Assembly (NA) has been uncovered, the state top auditor told the parliament this week.

More than one trillion kip of state spending without approval from the National Assembly (NA) has been uncovered, the state top auditor told the parliament this week.

The finding was the result of auditing the 2015-2016 state budget, President of the State Auditing Organisation (SAO), Dr Viengthong Siphandone told the NA’s ongoing ordinary session.

The money was from various sources including revenue that state departments had collected but not handed over to the state budget in line with the relevant law. Some was allocated for debt repayment but was spent for other purposes.  The 2015-2016 fiscal-year budget report from the government suggested that more than 30.545 trillion kip of state expenditure, which represented 28.12 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), was spent in the fiscal year.

“But the SAO found that an additional more than one trillion kip was spent without approval from the NA,” she told the session. Of this unlawful spending, more than 688 billion kip was spent by central state organisations, while the remaining more than 342 billion kip was spent by local departments. In addition, the auditors also found state departments collected more than 689 billion kip of revenue which was not handed over to the state budget as required by the relevant law.

Of this money, more than 516 billion kip was collected by central state departments with the remainder collected by local authorities. The money was collected from taxes, state asset fees and other sources. The 2015-2016 fiscal-year budget report suggested the government had collected total revenue of more than 22.287 trillion kip, which accounted for 20.52 percent of GDP. “But the SAO found an additional more than 689 billion kip of revenue, which was not passed on to the state budget,” she told the lawmakers. However, Dr Viengthong did not explain what the 689 billion kip was spent on. She recommended that authorities in charge take action to claim back the revenue for the state budget.

To prevent unapproved spending in the future, the SAO President pressed on the need to fully observe financial discipline and resolutions of the NA regarding the state budget plan. In order to enable state departments to utilise money collected from their technical service fees for administration expenditure needs, Dr Viengthong recommended departments to draw up plans that were accountable and seek approval from the authorities in charge. But such spending must be in line with the NA’s approved budget.

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