A total of 38,729 audit objections, involving a sum over Tk1.48 trillion, with different state-run banks and agencies, including the Bangladesh Bank (BB), have long remained unresolved.
The audit objections, raised by the Commercial Audit Directorate under the office of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), remained pending against the central bank, ten state-owned banks and five state agencies as of December 2018, according to the financial institutions division (FID) data.
Of the total, 36,179 objections involving Tk 1.28 trillion are against five state-owned commercial banks and five specialised banks.
The number of audit objections with Bangladesh Bank (BB) stands at 1,035, involving over Tk116.344 billion.
Of the banks, the state-owned Janata Bank alone has 5724 unsettled audit objections involving Tk 395.93 billion, according to a finance ministry report.
There are 6615 audit objections involving over Tk 286 billion with the Sonali Bank, 5477 audit objections (Tk 213.75 billion) with the Agrani Bank, 5413 audit objections (Tk 185.38 billion) with the Rupali Bank, 898 audit objections (Tk 94.65 billion) with the BASIC Bank Limited, 6687 audit objections (Tk 68.54 billion) with Bangladesh Khrishi Bank and 4156 audit objections (Tk 17.63 billion) with the Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank.
Of the state agencies, Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation (BHBFC) has 265 audit objections involving Tk 3.15 billion, the Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) has 105 objections (Tk 16.81 billion), Sadharan Bima Corporation has 582 objections (Tk 50.35 billion), Jiban Bima Corporation has 531 objections (Tk 4.14 billion) and the Security Printing Corporation (Bangladesh) has 32 objections (Tk 1.68 billion), according to the FID.
When contacted, Deputy Secretary of Financial Institutions Division Mrityunjoy Saha said, "We sat at a meeting recently to speed up the process to settle the audit objections. Besides, the FID has given some instructions to improve the situation."
The CAG office identified thousands of audit objections involving trillions of public money that remained pending over the past several decades, said a high official.
A large number of audit objections with different state-run banks and agencies remained unresolved mainly due to non-compliance with the relevant law, he added.
At a recent meeting, the finance ministry took several decisions to expedite the process of settling audit objections, said the official.
In the meeting, the ministry has instructed to work out a full-fledged action plan detailing how many bilateral meetings and tripartite meetings will be required to settle the audit objections, he added.
The ministry has also advised the financial institutions concerned to inform the audit authority if any loan concerning the audit objections has been regularised, he said.
The CAG audits the public enterprises in line with the Comptroller and Auditor-General (Additional Functions) Act, 1974.
A director of the commercial audit directorate, wishing not to be named, said, "We, generally, put in observation relating to any accounts/files of state-owned entities if they fail to comply with necessary audit requirements. But we settle the audit issues instantly if any state agencies can present their arguments properly."
"We generally sit with the agencies concerned in bilateral and tripartite meetings to resolve the audit objections."
The CAG sends the serious unsettled audit objections to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of national parliament which finally resolves the issue, he said.
Distinguished Fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Prof Mustafizur Rahman said the government needs to strengthen the existing mechanism to settle the audit objections in a faster and systematic way.
There should have been an option of penalty for those who repeats mistakes in auditing, he suggested.
At the same time, the government could reduce its expenses through bringing discipline in auditing, he opined.
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