Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh on Thursday expressed satisfaction that today's Parliament session was devoted for listening to governmental departments' reponses to the Audit Bureau's remarks on their performance and financial statements.
Minister Al-Saleh pledged greater keenness on protecting public funds and deeper cooperation with the bureau "to perform the tasks as outlined by the constitution and the law." As to uncollected fees for the government, estimated at KD 1.8 billion, he indicated that the uncollected fees for his ministry amount to KD 1.108 billion, KD 624 million for the ministry of oil, KD 73 million for the ministry of electricity and water, KD 94.7 million for the communication ministry and the rest for "the departments of less debts." (the KD is currently traded at USD 3.3) The minister added that he along with the relevant officials will forward clarifications about these funds.
Collecting the unpaid dues has been tackled by the government, he said, noting that a special team has been formed to work out a timetable and speed up payments.
As to charges that the Public Authority for Social Security is not cooperating with the Audit Bureau, Minister Al-Saleh explained that the "disagreement had been resolved, whereby the bureau would receive all needed documents to fulfill the tasks." He indicated that international consultancy houses had been tasked to assess auditing and supervision at the social authority and the Public Investment Authority.
Regarding performance of government companies, he said that, in light of the audit bureau's remarks, a panel had been formed to investigate performance of the National Offset Company. The committee had reported suspected manipulation with public funds, thus this case must be referred to the public prosecution.
On low performance by some external portfolios of the PIA, he acknowledged that remarks in this respect "concern only six portfolios out of 14," noting that the rest had posted positive performance, though lower than market indices.
All financial portfolios posted, in March 2014, annual earnings estimated at seven-17 percent. Their performance in the fiscal year ending in March 2014 amounted to 12.39 percent, as compared to 11.4 percent in the previous year.
For his part, the PIA Managing Director, Bader Al-Saadan, said most of the diwan remarks were related to investments and a number of government authorities. "It is normal that performance varies from department to another due to divergent investment objectives." He also branded as "normal" incurrence of losses. "It is not sensible that thousands of investment portfolios post profits, all." Governor of the Central Bank Mohammad Al-Hashel also spoke during the session, touching on the issue of the CBK new building, mentioning some technical issues with the contractors.