Govt ministries fail to account for US$40m

Comptroller and Auditor-General Mildred Chiri rapped the ministry’s accounting records as unreliable and incomplete, saying it was difficult to reconcile expenditure figures. The ministry’s total expenditure as per the Appropriation Account amounted to US$176 478 621 while the Public Finance Management Systems (PFMS) report recorded a balance of US$158 562 920, leaving an unreconciled difference of US$17 915 701.

“Proper and reliable accounting records should be maintained at all the times. The two different expenditure figures should be reconciled to ensure completeness and accuracy of information,” Chiri recommended.

The report also unearthed fraudulent activities where US$197 043 was paid to six companies which did not provide any goods or services to the ministry. Only US$22 174 was recovered after an internal audit.

Chiri said no steps were taken against the officers who committed the fraud and no mechanisms had been put in place to prevent such lapses in internal controls.
“Total losses will occur if the fraud is not investigated to its logical conclusion. Failure to take appropriate measures against those found to be negligent will send wrong signals.”

Chiri warned the ministry against circumventing government systems in making payments for institutional provisions, saying audit trails were lost, resulting in public funds being misused.

The report also exposed the Ministry of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development for failing to reconcile three different figures it submitted. The Appropriation Account reflected US$215 511 694, the Public Finance Systems’ consumed budget had a figure of US$112 730 411, while the Sub Paymasters-General’s bank statement showed an amount of US$205 876 312.

Chiri said the submission of three figures suggested that the ministry’s total expenditure might include fraudulently processed vouchers. She also found that the Agriculture ministry had failed to do monthly payroll reconciliations.

“Therefore I could not ascertain the correctness of the wage bill. (The chances of) Ghost workers having been paid could not be ruled out,” said Chiri. The ministry had also not paid about US$3,7 million it borrowed for agricultural inputs from various seed companies during the 2008 financial year.

“The ministry did not produce the list of beneficiaries of the seed for the audit and the examination could not, therefore, confirm whether the inputs were distributed to deserving farmers,” said Chiri.

Her report noted the Local Government ministry had issued 27 Mitsubishi L200 pick-up vehicles to chiefs  without any form of regularisation.
She said loans for the purchase of 161 vehicles issued to traditional leaders were written off without approval by treasury. The audit revealed the Department of State Land was not following procedures in land allocation.

Chiri said the Ministry of Home Affairs had no cash book records. There was also misappropriation of about US$960 000 at immigration between May and June 2010.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs had an unreconciled balance of close to US$4 million.

She said six vehicles purchased by the Housing ministry for US$100 362 had not yet been delivered.

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