THE Zimbabwean government is seeking Swedish expertise to assist in auditing parastatals and state-run companies as a way of promoting financial accountability, an official has said.
In his keynote address at a tax seminar hosted by Ernest and Young on Tuesday, head of fiscal and investment promotion in the Ministry of Finance, Desire Sibanda, said government is consulting the Swedish national audit office to assist in training value for money audits, covering pricing, mining investment contracts, post investment activities, impact of investment, audit of incentives offered as well as compliance with additional stipulations and statutes.
Sibanda said government recognises the need to equip the Auditor General, Ministry of Finance, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the public accounts committee of parliament with skills to provide effective oversight functions on behalf of tax payers.
“Government seeks to strengthen state audit institutions as a way of promoting financial accountability in the public sector. It has been observed by a number of writers that most African mining tax authorities at present do not have the requisite skills to audit the complex accounts of large multinationals. Zimbabwe is no exception given the skills flight and low remuneration in the public sector,” Sibanda said.
He said government was concerned with the losses being made by the parastatal sector. In January, a visiting Chinese delegation insisted on parastatal reforms in the face of rampant corruption and maladministration as part of requirements Zimbabwe should fulfill before accessing funding and investment from China.
Despite regular audit reports by the Auditor General’s office exposing maladministration and rampant corruption no stern action has been taken by government to stem the corruption and maladministration rot.
Zimbabwean parastatals are plagued by a culture of patronage, systematic militarisation, looting and ineptitude resulting in unsustainable draining of the fiscus.
In his budget statement Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said government would avail US$2,6million to the Auditor General’s office to coordinate audits of the targeted entities to determine the challenges they are facing.
Targeted parastatals are the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, Cold Storage Commission, Grain Marketing Board, Air Zimbabwe, TelOne, Civil Association Authority of Zimbabwe and the National Railways of Zimbabwe.