HomeLocal NewsLooting of state resources rife: Auditor-General

Looting of state resources rife: Auditor-General

THE Comptroller and Auditor-General’s report, which was tabled in parliament on Tuesday, has revealed glaring inconsistencies within various government ministries including exaggerated payments and gross violations of set regulations.

Kudzai Kuwaza

In the report for the financial year ended December 2011, comptroller and auditor-general Mildred Chiri cites a number of anomalies that include unvouched expenditure, failure to maintain proper assets records, failure to put in place internal control systems to safeguard assets against loss and pilferage, as well as failure to follow proper tender procedures.

Chiri noted that President Robert Mugabe’s Office paid for assets valued at US$450 000 without attaching invoices to validate the payments and failed to record assets that it purchased to guard against pilferage and /or personalisation for the second year running.

She also revealed that out of the US$15 million expenditure by then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Office, it could not provide 24 payment vouchers for auditing purposes.

Chiri pointed out that officers in the Prime Minister’s Office were issued with multiple advances before clearing previous balances in violation of Treasury Instruction 1505 which requires that no advances be made before previous advances are cleared.

“In the absence of payment vouchers, I could not satisfy myself whether the expenditure was incurred for the intended purpose,” she reported.

Chiri noted that out of advances totalling US$315 118 issued to the PM’s office during the financial year under review, US$168 425 was still outstanding at the end of the financial year.

On the Ministry of Agriculture, Chiri noted that the department of irrigation development flouted tender procedures in the procurement of goods and services.

“Goods and service amounting to US$280 225 were procured through competitive quotes despite the individual prices of the goods exceeding the informal tender limit of US$10 000.”

The report also revealed a shocking case where the same department of irrigation development sourced quotations from six companies owned by one supplier, who eventually won the tenders. This meant a total of more than US$870 000 was paid to one vendor, contrary to Statutory Instrument 171 of 2002 Section 4(i)(b).

Chiri also castigated the ministry for wasting more than 1 000 bags of cement, steel rods and 90 000 common bricks bought during the 2008 financial year for the ministry’s head office.

“The cement was left to crystallise although there were several government projects that could have utilised it, while the rusted steel rods were no longer usable and 20 000 bricks were not accounted for. As a result the state lost building material worth US$11 790.”

Chiri observed that the Public Service Commission employees were violating Paragraph 4,5 of Public Service Commission Circular Number 5 of 2011 that forbids officers allocated government vehicles for official use from receiving transport allowance.

“It came to my attention that 49 managers based at head office, provincial offices and district offices who had been allocated official vehicles were in receipt of transport allowances,” Chiri wrote. “The total transport allowance paid during the year under review amounted to US$31 752.”

The implication, Chiri noted,was that the Public Service Commission was in violation of its own regulations and recommended that the commission should put in place arrangements to recover the unauthorised transport allowances.

The Commission was also found to have flouted tender procedures in the acquisition of furniture.

The report observed that the ministry accepted assets donated to it by the Korean government without Treasury Authority.

Chiri said the Pensions Office had overpaid some pensioners by more than US$350 000, thus depleting government coffers.

“Eight widowed pensioners were overpaid by amounts totaling US$357 956 in September 2011,” the report revealed.

“The overpayments were occasioned by failure to effectively manage the inputs… The overpayments were only detected after an alarm had been raised by one of the overpaid widows”.

She said from the cases discovered US$86 811 remained unpaid as at the end of the year.

Chiri noted that the Zimbabwe National Army and the Airforce of Zimbabwe did not submit their annual departmental assets returns indicating whether assets under their control had been physically compared with the records at least once during the financial year.

This, she reported, had made it impossible to authenticate whether the assets had been properly accounted for, adding that it implied that the assets of the Defence ministry under which the two departments fall under may have been misappropriated without trace.

Chiri established that the Defence ministry’s outstanding domestic travelling and subsistence advances stood at US$40 091 as at December 31 2011, while foreign travel unrecovered advances totalled US$60 282 and there was no evidence of any efforts to recover the amount.

She said there was an increase in the number of officers who had multiple travelling and subsistence advances at the end of 2011 in violation of Treasury Instruction 1505.

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