After accusations made by an official at the Central Auditing Organisation (CAO) and a report published by a news website regarding corruption, Finance Ministry Ambassador Ayman Qaffas denied Wednesday any discrepancies in the state budget of FY 2014/2015.
He impugned the factual basis of the claims made by the CAO and the article.
In its report, the news website cited an anonymous source working at the organisation who claimed that CAO discovered a discrepancy in the budget balance amounting to EGP 18.2bn.
The source stated the aforementioned figure was removed from its correct place in the energy subsidies section and was moved to the settlements of financial engagements between ministries and governmental authorities and a loan to the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC).
The article, which was published late December, said that the discovery meant that actual budget deficit is 12.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and not 11.5% of GDP as the ministry announced.
The Finance Ministry defended its position and said that the decrease in energy subsidies section was due to the decrease in oil prices and is not related to financial entanglements.
In September, Minister of Planning Ashraf Al-Araby said the government is working on disengaging financial entanglements between public entities, which amounted to EGP 1.1tn. He said the entanglements varied over entanglements between the Ministry of Finance, NIB, and the Social Insurance Authority and between the ministries of Petroleum, Electricity, and Finance.
Similar rumours spurred on news websites made in December 2013, accusing the ministry of embezzling EGP 400bn from the insurance fund. This led the ministry to issue a similar denial at the time.
This is not the first claim made by officials at CAO regarding corruption. In December, Head of CAO Hisham Geneina made press statements, in which he announced that the value of money lost was due to state corruption.
“Based on monitoring reports supervised by CAO, the cost of corruption inside the country’s institutions exceeded EGP 600bn in 2015”, Geneina was quoted by local newspaper Al-Youm Al-Sabea as saying on 23 December.
Geneina further added in the interview that over the course of the year, CAO members and government officials have been exchanging reports, in which the traced violations were indentified along with recommendations.
Following the press statement by the Ministry of Finance, the presidency issued a press statement denying reports of corruption and ordered investigations into the claims. The formed committee however excluded Geneina.
Minister of Justice Ahmed El-Zend filed a defamation lawsuit against the CAO head related to comments Geneina made in November 2014. In his statements, Geneina criticised the justice system and the Judges Club of which El-Zend was the president before being appointed minister.