Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Auditor-General, Ms Mildred Chiri, has slammed Government ministries for flouting governance and procurement rules leading to abuse of funds, State assets and diverting resources to unauthorised use.
In the executive summary to her recent audit report, Ms Chiri said she observed weaknesses in the procurement systems for goods and services in 18 ministries.
“These shortcomings were prevalent in flouting of procurement regulations such as formal and informal tender procedures, failure to purchase to best advantage, procuring defective and sub-standard products and purchase of overpriced goods and services,” said Ms Chiri.
“Some ministries were effecting payments to suppliers without the prerequisite documents such as invoices, receipts and delivery notices. The deficiencies, if not addressed, will continue to drain Government of critical resources.”
The audit, she said, revealed variances of $170 million between collections recorded by Treasury and amounts collected by line ministries, pointing to either understatements or overstatements of revenues received.
It was noted that the ministry responsible for managing Government properties was not collecting rentals from tenants, resulting in tenants either absconding or defaulting on payment.
“About nine (24 percent of) ministries were not recovering loans advanced to Government employees, including former Honourable Members of Parliament who were given vehicle loans, loans advanced to parastatals and rentals from tenants who occupied Government buildings,” she said.
“There were differences between the receipts and disbursement figures and those disclosed in the Public Finance Management Systems. Revenue receipted and banked was not being reconciled.”
Ms Chiri noted that most ministries were not properly managing travel and subsistence allowance advances as evidenced by non-acquittal and clearances of the said advances.
“Some ministries issued advances to employees before earlier advances were cleared in violation of Treasury instructions,” said Ms Chiri.
“Ministries were diverting money from funds to meet Appropriation Accounts expenditures of parent ministries, causing unauthorised expenditures. One ministry loaned an amount of $1,4 million from a fund to a parastatal. The money was not disbursed to the respective fund. Consequently, the achievement of objectives of the funds from which resources were diverted was compromised.”
The audit said there was no evidence that all ministries maintained Master Assets Registers as a number of them failed to produce these documents for audit purposes.
“Furthermore, other ministries were not maintaining up to date Masters Assets Registers, resulting in failure to account for assets under their custody,” she said.
It was noted that several ministries were not convening boards of inquiry to establish causes of losses or damages of state property like accident damaged vehicles so as to take appropriate action.
“In some cases where boards of inquiry were not convened, ministries ended up using public funds to repair motor vehicles/assets, which would have been damaged by Government employees,” she said.
Ministries, she said, were not consistently preparing monthly reconciliation statements of the sub-paymaster general accounts as evidenced by 17 (45 percent) of the ministries that failed to produce the main reconciliation statement at year-end.