Thursday, July 18, 2024

OAG spotlight on Government spending

An audit of Government spending for the first half of 2021/22 has found that all expenditure was properly authorised apart from three instances which have been attributed to administrative errors.

In one spending oversight, $4.77 million in COVID-19 Resurgent Support Payments were made without authority when the pandemic payment was activated in June last year.

“The recommendation to Cabinet omitted to request that the spending be authorised under the Imprest Supply Act,” the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) said in a statement released today.

“Without Cabinet’s explicit agreement to use imprest supply, there was no other Parliamentary authority for the payments.”

It says the oversight was identified in early July, with spending authority provided on 15 July.

“By then, $4.77 million had been paid without authority,” the OAG said.

The Office said payments after that date were made with the correct authority.

In a second error, Meridian Energy Limited’s dividend reinvestment plan resulted in the Crown receiving new shares valued at $33 million in October last year.

The OAG found that the Parliamentary appropriation that authorises such an investment had not been increased to cover this event, resulting in $11.7 million of the investment being unappropriated.

And in the third spending error, the Department of Conservation transferred the Arikikapakapa Recreation Reserve to a third party in September 2021 prior to authority for an expense transfer being granted.

“The process had been delayed from 2020/21 to 2021/22 and the Department had requested an expense transfer from 2020/21 to 2021/22 to cover it,” the OAG said.

“However, the land transfer was finalised before the expense transfer and the authority to use imprest supply had been approved, resulting in $3.13 million of unappropriated expenditure.”

The OAG said it had been emphasising to Government departments the need to ensure that the correct authorities were in place before incurring expenditure not provided for in the Budget Act.

“Unfortunately, such oversights continue to happen,” it said.

Latest Articles