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Weakness cited in ministry’s internal control systems
KUWAIT CITY, Nov 7: The State Audit Bureau has uncovered a scandal in the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, which involved forgery of names of some of its employees in order to facilitate obtaining of driving licenses unjustly, and the registration of some expatriates under the ministry’s residency even though they do not work for the ministry, reports Al- Rai daily. According to the bureau’s report after examining the budget of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs for the 2020/2021 fiscal year, the ministry has flimsy internal control systems regarding the data of those registered under the sponsorship of the ministry. There is also a difference in the data related to residencies and the numbers of workers. The report stated, “The Awqaf Ministry provided some of the ministry’s employees with job titles of “mandoub” and “driver”, even though they were not consistent with their actual job, with the aim of ensuring these employees obtained a driver’s license. There are also people registered under the ministry but do not work for it and are not covered by the categories that the ministry registers them on its residency. This issue was referred to the Ministry of Interior.
The Ministry of Interior indicated in its response to the scandal that the number of non- Kuwaitis registered under the ministry’s residency was 3,903 expatriates. The Ministry of Awqaf’s reports show that 174 of them have either expired residencies or had resigned or were deceased or their services have ended”. The bureau revealed that the Ministry of Awqaf had formed an independent investigation committee to find out who facilitated these procedures, and also notify the Ministry of Interior to suspend modification of the job titles for any of the ministry’s employees until the investigation committee completes its task.
It stated that there is a weakness in the internal control systems in the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs due to the lack of a program that allows the Department of Administrative Affairs to save the data of all employees registered under the ministry’s sponsorship, as well as a shortcoming in the regulations governing who in the ministry has the right to offer the ministry’s sponsorship. The report recorded many observations and violations against the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, most notably:
1. Under-spending on 327 construction projects and on radical maintenance of a number of them.
2. The lack of accuracy in estimating the budget, which resulted in large transfers and appropriations of some budget items.
3. Shortage of land parcels affiliated to the ministry without explaining the reasons for the shortage, as the approved in the previous budget was 16, and only 14 land parcels appear in the final account.
4. Failure to carry out inventories of manuscripts, their accessories, and microfilm copies.
5. Not deducting the full value of the fines in the contract for cleaning mosques and buildings affiliated to the Ahmadi Mosques Administration, as it was found that there were no 156 workers out of 848 workers residing in the mosque, but the ministry made payments to the company.
In addition, the bureau’s report affirmed that the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs continues to –
1. Issue decisions to grant Awqaf housing to people who do not meet the conditions, as 32 housing units have been allocated since 2019 until today for people whose residency is not affiliated with the ministry, and do not work for it.
2. Allocate 41 housing units for employees whose job titles are not among the titles of religious job holders who are eligible for housing care, and the continuation of allocating additional housing units to 15 employees who have an allocation from the Public Authority for Housing Welfare. 3. Allocate two housing units for 95 employees in violation of the conditions.
The bureau highlighted that the ministry continues to slack in taking the necessary measures because it allocates 15 housing units for those who refuse to contract with the ministry for a period of 6 years without the ministry collecting the rental value.