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Audit Bureau releases annual report, points to financial discrepancies

A general view of Amman on October 1, 2016. The Audit Bureau’s report on the 2020 budget revealed a number of discrepancies in many public-sector bodies. (Photo: Shutterstock)
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AMMAN — The Audit Bureau posted its annual report for 2020 on its website Wednesday. Copies of the report were handed by the bureau’s president, Assem Haddad, to Senate President Faisal Al-Fayez and Speaker of the Lower House Abdel Karim Al-Doghmi on Tuesday. The Audit Bureau’s annual report is the most comprehensive and in-depth examination of public sector financial activities making sure they comply with the law.اضافة اعلان

The 2020 report revealed a number of discrepancies in many public-sector bodies. These included the following:

First, the Audit Bureau criticized the mechanism for estimating revenues and grants within the last year’s 2020 budget. The report considered that there was an overestimation of revenues in last year’s budget where they were estimated at JD8.5 billion dinars, while the actual revenues amounted to JD7 billion. It added that last year, revenues decreased by 18 percent, a total of JD1.5 billion.

Second, the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) has given financial incentives and remunerations exceeding legal limits by almost 300 percent and without the Cabinet’s approval, which makes the GAM legally and financially liable, according to the report. It found that the GAM has expanded the way it awarded incentives and remunerations by introducing more than 100 new descriptions and without legal justifications. One of the new description was “a reward in lieu of a reward”, the bureau said.

Third, the Audit Bureau report said that 75 tonnes of coffee beans from Ethiopia that were allowed to enter the Kingdom were found to be unfit for human consumption by inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the report, there was a discrepancy between the results of the laboratory tests on a sample taken at the Customs Department and those of a second test run after the coffee had cleared customs. The coffee was cleared by the FDA to be moved to the bonded warehouse, against the directives of the Customs Department director-general. Goods cannot be moved in or out of the bonded warehouse without the permission of the Customs Department.

Fourth, the bureau also found that one general-director of a public company had received JD23,000 for gasoline for his two four-by-four vehicles in 2018 and 2019.

Fifth, the bureau’s report revealed that the Aqaba Development Corporation had handed out financial donations to a number of outside parties worth JD369,000 without the consent of the Cabinet. The report added that the corporation had spent remunerations to members of the board of directors worth JD45,000 for five sessions in 2019 and JD315,000 for three sessions in 2020 in addition to spending JD33,000 during 2019 and JD35,000 during 2020 as remuneration to members of the board of directors for 2018 profits. Also the report revealed that the corporation had awarded JD28.000 for the years 2019 and 2020 as annual bonuses to employees not working for the corporation and without a legal basis.

Finally, the report also showed that the Financial Market Authority paid a financial reward to two employees of the authority, with a value exceeding JD14,000.

As every year, the Lower House is expected to hold a session to debate the findings of the report and demand that cases where corruption is suspected be investigated by the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission.

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