Auditor-General nails ministries for bad accounting

Source: Auditor-General nails ministries for bad accounting | The Herald June 29, 2019

Auditor-General nails ministries for bad accounting
Auditor General Mildred Chiri addresses a press conference on the annual audit report tabled in Parly yesterday. AG asserted her office’s mandate which is to audit central government ministries in Harare yesterday.-(Picture by Innocent Makawa)

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
The 2018 Auditor-General’s Annual report tabled in Parliament on Thursday has exposed poor maintenance of accounting records in some ministries, with some diverting funds for non-intended purposes while other paid-for goods were not delivered.

The report was tabled in Parliament by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi on behalf of his Finance and Economic Development counterpart Professor Mthuli Ncube. Yesterday, Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri said there was need for attention and redress on issues she identified.

“Maintenance of accounting records remained a challenge in some ministries for both Appropriation and Fund accounts,” she said.

“Proper accounting and assets records such as cash books and ledgers to record revenue and expenditure and fuel and motor vehicle registers were in some cases not maintained. As a result, I could not confirm the completeness and accuracy of some financial statements which were compiled from the bank statements, payment vouchers and cash books instead of general ledgers.”

She said revenues and expenditures of some financial statements were either overstated or understated by $16 745 223 and $21 153 747 respectively while $21 725 598 could not be verified.

Some of the ministries involved include that of Health and Child Welfare, Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Development, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.

“Expenditure totalling $2 368 932 was incurred on the purchase of vehicles, generators, excavators, syringe infusion pumps, a water bowser and biometric cards which were not delivered.

“There was no evidence that the ministries had followed up deliveries of the outstanding goods,” Mrs Chiri said.

She also said ministries processed payments of US$7 280 598 and $232 187 525 that were not adequately supported with receipts, invoices, goods received notes and competitive quotations making it difficult to ascertain if the funds were used for intended purposes.

“Variances of $3 012 861 were noted in some ministries between expenditure for employment costs show in the Appropriation Account and expenditure reported by the Salaries Services Bureau.

“There is need to reconcile employment costs reported in the Public Finance and Management System against that paid by SSB to ensure that salaries are paid to bonafide employees.

The ministries affected include that of Public Service and Social Welfare, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Higher and Tertiary Education, Energy and Power Development, Industry and Commerce and the Public Service Commission and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission.

The ministries balance was $1 055 828 763 while that of the SSB was $1 059 163 623.

Mrs Chiri said in terms of service delivery the Ministry of Health and Child Care had 282 ambulances with only 134 (48 percent) of them functional affecting movement of patients.

“In the education sector, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education received funds amounting to US$6 090 000 to procure books for the Curriculum Development and Technical Services but the money was used for other purposes.

“I was not able to ascertain how the curriculum was implemented without the required materials,” she said.

“Similarly, on the welfare of citizens, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare did not disburse Harmonised Social Cash Transfer which is a transfer of cash entitlement to vulnerable households in order to reduce household poverty, protect and enhance the livelihoods of all vulnerable children so that they refrain from risky coping strategies such as child labour and early marriages.

“The $9 759 722 earmarked for HSCT programme was recalled by the Treasury on December 31, 2018 after realising that no disbursements were made thus depriving the beneficiaries of a better standard of living.”

She said the ministry had also disbursed $38 586 (39 percent) of the $100 000 allocated for the protection and welfare of the elderly with the bulk going towards administration expenses, hospitality and travel and subsistence allowances.

Mrs Chiri also said amount owed to various ministries rose from $133 897 975 to $416 852 415 saying it was doubtful whether the money would be collected as some had remained outstanding for long periods.