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State Auditing Body Uncovers More Cases Of Financial Irregularity

Source: Vientiane Times

The State Audit Organisation (SAO) inspected 104 state-funded projects and government bodies in 2019, exceeding its plan of 99, as financial irregularities continue to be detected.

The SAO reported the information on Monday during the first day of a two-day meeting on state budget inspections in Vientiane. Some 320 participants from provincial authorities are attending the meeting to review achievements in 2019 and plan for the year ahead.

Organisation officials identified leaks in the taxes being paid to the state, such as several projects being reported as fully complete when in reality they were still ongoing.

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Of particular concern for inspectors were the below expectation amounts of income and value-added tax collected by state enterprises in the provinces.

To address these challenges, members of the Politburo Central Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and Vice President of the Lao PDR, Dr Phankham Viphavanh, instructed authorities to strengthen inspections by collecting more evidence such as financial records, and improving procedures.

During the meeting, participants are discussing methods and regulations to resolve remaining inspection issues to maximise revenue collection and prudent expenditure of the state budget, as well as measures to ensure efficient state debt collection.

According to a Government Inspection Authority (GIA) report last year, some 1,225 state-funded projects were implemented unlawfully in recent years.

As of 2018, some 678 projects had been inspected, and 547 remained unchecked.

The inspections enabled the government to save thousands of billions of kip and the GIA pledged to carry out further inspections into the remaining projects.

Government savings of more than 3.5 trillion kip (almost US$419 million) from overvalued projects were identified following inspections by the authorities. The excess costs were discovered during the inspection of 18 projects in 2017 and 12 projects during the first 10 months of 2018.