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FILE PHOTO: The Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge.(Daily NK)

North Korean authorities are reviewing how well provincial trade bureaus have met their foreign currency quotas in the first quarter of the year and are auditing bureaus that failed to meet their quotas, Daily NK has learned. 

“The government has assigned officials from the State Planning Commission and the Ministry of External Economic Relations to audit the provinces that failed to provide the state with the planned amount of foreign currency funds in the first quarter of the year. The auditors are supposed to review the results and correct what went wrong,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Wednesday.

As part of the audit, eight officials from the State Planning Commission and the Ministry of External Economic Relations arrived at North Hamgyong Province’s trade bureau on Apr. 10 and have been dispatched around the province. The auditors even worked through Kim Il Sung’s birthday on Apr. 15. The officials are planning to complete their audit and return to headquarters by the end of April.

“The current objective of the audit is to figure out how persistently and energetically provincial trade bureaus have been in delivering foreign currency to the state. But another objective is to pressure the bureaus to unconditionally meet the state’s foreign currency quota in the future,” the source said.

The auditors have mostly been examining documents provided by managers, bookkeepers, and statisticians at trade companies in North Hamgyong Province. After marking problem areas in red, they are meeting with the people involved to check on their work processes and outcomes, the source explained.

According to him, the auditors in North Hamgyong Province have looked through all the documents not only from the first quarter of the year but from the last two years as well. They are asking hard questions about the province’s failure to meet the foreign currency quota. The auditors reportedly believe that low-level trade organizations did not make a serious effort to meet the quota.

Trade organizations did manage to get permission in Sinuiju for sending imports and exports through the Uiju quarantine center. However, the auditors were greatly disappointed by the fact that these organizations, thinking they had no way of meeting the quota, attempted to shirk responsibility for not sending any foreign currency to the government over more than two years. 

What angered the auditors the most was that these trade organizations did not work as hard as they should have to export domestic products through Sinuiju and Nampo.

“The auditors are holding separate interviews with trade bureau officials and trade organization managers. They are writing a report that analyzes and summarizes their findings and are planning to submit the report without revisions to the Cabinet Standing Committee,” the source said.

“The auditors have been granted special authority from the central government to take steps to revoke the registration of trade companies and notify those companies of this, so they could shut down companies that are no longer serving as trade organizations or qualified to do so. As a result, trade bureau officials are taking this audit very seriously,” the source added.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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