UK suspends £4.7m funding for Commonwealth Secretariat

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The government has suspended its funding of the Commonwealth Secretariat over concerns about its financial procedures.

Baroness Scotland, secretary general of the Commonwealth, has been told that Britain’s annual £4.7m contribution has been paused.

The development comes after Lady Scotland was criticised by internal auditors for giving a lucrative consultancy contract to a firm run by a personal friend.

The secretariat’s audit committee accused her of “circumventing” the usual competitive tendering rules.

A number of conditions have been attached to the government’s £4.7m funding, which the Foreign Office said related to making sure its procurement policy and implementation are “in line with international best practice”.

An FCO spokeswoman said: “We are committed to an effective Commonwealth that delivers for its member states, so we have set a number of conditions on UK funding to the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation for this financial year.

“These include conditions relating to ensuring that the Secretariat’s procurement policy and its implementation are in line with international best practice.”

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According to the BBC, auditors found that Lady Scotland had waived procurement rules 50 times in three years.

Australia and New Zealand are said to have decreased their discretionary funding to the agency until its financial systems are improved.

A Commonwealth spokesman said the recommendations contained in a recent KPMG internal audit report on procurement had been accepted in full and the organisation was hopeful of the funding being reinstated.

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“All six of the recommendations were accepted and all but one have been implemented,” the spokesman said.

“The remaining recommendation will be implemented by the end of February, 2020.

“The follow-up audit, in April, will test and verify this position.

“We hope that the withheld discretionary funding, which is for the Commonwealth fund for technical co-operation, will then be reinstated, allowing the Commonwealth to continue delivering vital work on behalf of member countries.”

The 54-nation group is made up largely of former British colonies.

Its aim is to promote “democracy, human rights and the rule of law”.

Government suspends £4.7m funding for Commonwealth Secretariat

The government has suspended its funding of the Commonwealth Secretariat over concerns about its financial procedures. Baroness Scotland, secretary general of the Commonwealth, has been told that Britain’s annual £4.7m contribution has been paused. The development comes after Lady Scotland was criticised by internal auditors for giving a lucrative consultancy contract to a firm run by a personal friend.

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