Almost US$187 million lost to misuse, state inspector reveals

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - More than US$ 187 million in state funds lost to misuse and misconduct was uncovered throughout 2019, the top state inspector has announced.

The finding was the result of inspections into 945 targets in state bodies last year by investigation authorities at all levels, the Government Inspection Authority (GIA) reported at the sector’s annual meeting last week, according to media reports.

The lost money comprised more than 1,477 billion kip, 10.08 million baht and US$24.68 million. Five vehicles were also taken, according to local media, citing a report presented at Friday’s meeting.

However, authorities in charge have retrieved 35.95 billion kip, 10 million baht, US$200,000 and four vehicles.

The 945 targets included 140 state-funded projects which the inspectors scrutinised from the early stages of implementation, Vice Chairman of the GIA, Sinai Mienglavanh, who is also Vice Chairman of the Party Central Committee’s Inspection Committee, told the meeting.

Another 307 targets were inspected in line with a report and recommendations by the State Auditing Organisation (SAO), while the remaining inspections were carried out in accordance with the regular inspection plan.

Amid the huge losses that have still not been retrieved, Chairman of the GIA, Dr Bounthong Chitmany, who is also Chairman of the Party Central Committee’s Inspection Committee, underlined the need for inspectors at all levels to be more diligent.

Presiding over the meeting, Dr Bounthong told inspectors to attach greater importance to their duties and follow up on the performance of all state bodies and local authorities.

He underlined the need for further follow-up to ensure that state entities and local authorities properly implement various resolutions, executive orders, decrees, regulations and laws issued by the state.

The inspectors were told to continue inspecting revenue collection, implementation of tax and customs laws, and the budget law.

Dr Bounthong, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, called for inspections to ensure that all state departments at central and local levels strictly observe spending plans in line with the national austerity policy.

The inspectors were asked to carry out investigations into overpayment and duplicated payments associated with state-funded projects in target provinces and to hold those involved responsible.

To ensure proper and effective implementation, Dr Bounthong called for early inspections into state-funded projects including the US$5.8 billion Laos-China railway, whose construction is now 83 percent complete.

The meeting was told to continue following up the implementation of Prime Ministerial Order No. 15, which tightened the management of forest and timber businesses, including inspections at border checkpoints to prevent illegal exports.

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