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Petroleum importers’ arrears to road fund in millions

Following the General Auditing Commission’s (GAC’s) audit of the National Road Fund (NRF), grading the NRF’s financial statements as fair in all material respects, the NewDawn newspaper has seen an Excel spreadsheet that details the arrears of petroleum importers in millions of United States dollars with no payment made from 2019 to 2021 to settle these arrears.

Out of a total of 12 petroleum importers listed on the spreadsheet, four did not make any payment towards their arrears.

They include Petro Trade which has an arrear of 603,065.12; NP Liberia with an arrear of 15,820.48; Nexium with 17,075.10 arrears, and Kailondo Petroleum, with an arrear in the tune of 94,886.23.

Other petroleum importers had arrears but they made some payments. They include Srimex Gas and Oil which had an arrear of 5,982,251.66. In 2021, it paid 59,540, leaving a balance of 5,922,711.25.

Aminata & Sons had an arrear of 688,982.20; in 2021 it paid 21,064, leaving a balance of 667,918.64. Conex had an arrear of 7,116,278.00; it paid 412,629 in 2021, leaving a balance of 6,703,649.31. 

West Oil had -6,132.19 and it paid 274,475, leaving -280,607.65.  LPRC had 5,826,829.51 and it did pay 400,000.00 in 2019/ 2020, leaving 5,426,829.51.

In its recent report, the GAC audit drew specific attention to Table #3 of the NRF financial statement in which Management reported a total of US$22,212,538.00 as receivables due from petroleum importers for fuel levy charges but observed a net variance of (US$6,164,455.01) between the receivables reported in the financial statements and the amount confirmed by petroleum importers.

“Due to the importers’ failure to fully confirm the accounts receivables in Table 3 of the financial statements, we were unable to satisfy ourselves as to the existence, completeness, and collectability of the account receivables”, the Commission revealed. 

It also noted that for the period under audit, the NRF Management did not disclose in the financial statements, commitments to contractors totaling US$6,100,508.38, adding that said the outstanding commitment is an obligation against the total cash balance of US12, 936,639.00 brought forward as at 30th June 2020.

“There is a restriction of US$6,100,508.38 brought forward on the closing cash balance reported in the financial statements. Our opinion is not qualified in respect of the above matters.”

But in response, the Manager of the NRF, Boniface D. Satu says he accepts responsibility for the integrity of the financial statements, the financial information they contain and their compliance with provisions of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act of 2009.

GAC also stressed that NRF Management is responsible for maintenance of effective control measures and compliance with laws and regulations.

The GAC explained that management is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements in accordance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) Cash Basis, and for such internal control as management determines is necessary to enable the preparation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether as a result of fraud or error.

The General Auditing Commission has conducted an audit of the National Road Fund for the Period July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

“In preparing the financial statements, Management is responsible for assessing its ability to continue as a going concern, disclosing, as applicable, matters related to going concerns and using the going concern basis of accounting unless management either intends to cease operations or has no realistic alternative but to do so,” GAC said.

Liberia’s Auditor General P. Garswa Jackson, Sr., wrote in his report dated 11 March 2022 to the Manager of the National Road Fund Mr. Boniface D. Satu, saying that the NRF Management is responsible for overseeing the Project’s financial reporting process. 

On the other hand, AG Jackson noted that the objectives of the General Auditing Commission during an audit are to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error and to issue an auditor’s report that includes its opinion.

“Reasonable assurance is a high level of assurance, but is not a guarantee that an audit conducted in accordance with ISSAIs will always detect a material misstatement when it exists”, he cautioned.

According to the Auditor General, misstatements can arise from fraud or error and are considered material if, individually or in the aggregate, they could reasonably be expected to influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of these financial statements.

NewDawn

The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by the Searchlight Communications Inc. Office is located on The UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is a bilingual (both English & French).
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