Audit of COVID cash grant underway as Auditor General completes 2020 report

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With the 2020 Audit Report completed and handed over to the Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir, the Audit Office is continuing to give attention to several special audits, including that of the government’s $25,000 COVID cash grant.

The 2020 Auditor General report was handed over at the Arthur Chung Conference Center on Monday and will be made public after it is tabled in the National Assembly.

Until then, its contents are not for public consumption. But already Auditor General Deodat Sharma has said that with the limited spending done last year, the audit did not find any major discrepancies.

However, he is in receipt of the financial statement from the Ministry of Finance for the COVID cash grant and a special audit is underway.

Sharma said he personally travelled to Region Two to ensure that persons received their monies and to listen to complains, if any.

He explained that persons who have complains can submit same via the Audit Office website. No deadline is set for the completion of that audit and there is not clear indication on whether the distribution has wrapped up in all 10 administrative regions.

The AG said his work in auditing the distribution of the grant has been hampered because of the peculiar COVID situation in each region.

“Wherever possible we’re checking on the payments,” he assured.

Three months ago the government started the second phase of its $25,000 per household COVID-19 relief cash grant, with holders of the pink slips or query forms receiving their funds.

An estimated 40,565 families were expected to benefit in the second phase with some $1.1 billion to be expended.

At the end of August, the distribution had already been completed in Regions One, Two, Seven, Eight and Nine.

Up to early September, distribution continued in areas across Regions Three, Four, Five, Six and Ten.

In 2020, $4.5 billion was allocated for the first phase of the grant, which started in September.

During that distribution exercise, primary households received the grant, while tenants or other families residing at the same address were issued a ‘pink slip’ for follow-up during the second phase.

In December, the National Assembly approved an additional $2.5 billion to continue the cash grant relief efforts.

Persons with queries about their COVID pink slip grant can contact the Ministry on telephone number 223-7040/223-7039.

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