The Audit Office said on Wednesday the defence ministry is riddled with financial mismanagement, while the national guard is failing to follow correct safety guidelines and procedures.

One of the major findings, in a special report on the defence ministry in 2022, showed government failures in the ministry making an agreement with the Cyprus telecommunications authority (Cyta) regarding services to the national guard.

The national guard requested the agreement be made more than a decade ago in 2012.

Since then, the cabinet issued a decision in 2017 to moved forward with the agreement.

However, the Audit Office in its report said that as of 2022, no substantial progress had been made in the signing an agreement, resulting in indirect state aid to Cyta for €3.12 million.

In another part of the report, it is stated that in national guard unit ammunition depots, the safety rules specified in the relevant standing orders of the general staff were not observed, both in the stacking of ammunition and their marking with appropriate signs, indicating the various risks involved.

During the audit, the office found in one case a specific batch of grenades was recalled by the general staff.

However, a unit had failed to return their grenades despite being told to do so.

According to the announcement, the grenades were removed after 39 days.

The Audit Office also questioned the management of national guard storage depots, finding administrators marking stock incorrectly, and also not being able to identify quantities.

In one instance five smoke grenades issued to a depot and listed on an inventory card were unaccounted for during the audit and did not correspond with the details on the inventory card.

Depot administrators were also found to be editing the inventory cards with white-out, pencils, or just scribbling answers.

This resulted in the Audit Office identifying numerical errors, which the administrators of the depots failed to identify, “meaning they [the inventory cars] were not prepared with the due care”.

In one unit, the report said that there were no tracked forms.

Hourly paid government personnel were also found to be missing from a unit.

The Audit Office said that from their check that day only three of nine employees were at the national guard camp, and also no sign-in sheet was kept for the shifts.

They added they were blocked from entering the camp for half an hour, and the absence of the other six was then excused by the staff there.

One individual had left for a personal reason, which was not recorded, while five others were reported to be on leave, also with no record.