A quick perusal of the recently released Report of the Auditor General paints gloomy picture of poor accounting, mismanagement and in some instances rampant abuse of state funds. Even more depressing is that millions of Pula disappear from public coffers or remain unaccounted for but government does not seem capable of addressing the short comings even at a time when calls for belt tightening are reaching fever pitch. As in previous reports, the Auditor General says there are considerable delays in the detection and reporting of cases of losses of funds from government accounting systems. This performance can be improved by speedy and vigorous follow-ups of the loss cases with the objective of early finalisation of the cases, with the Ministry of Finance, as the supervisor Ministry, taking the lead. The loss amount of the outstanding cases as at 31st March 2015 was P5 213 800, covering the periods of occurrence from 1992 to 2013, in some cases, without significant progress. Out of this amount, only P1 602 731 was recovered over this period and P867 739 was written-off. Under the ministry of State President the actual expenditure outturn was P985 567 092, leaving an unspent balance of P16 046 708, representing 2% of the warranted provision, indicating that the departments spent well within the amounts of their sub-warrants, ranging from 93% to 99% of their sub-warranted provisions. But once again, as has now become common occurrence, was the exception of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) which had overspent the salaries subhead, and to cap it all there were no noted over-expenditures under specific items of expenditures.
In some cases like the Ministry of education, accounts opened for specific projects, have been turned into an extra-budgetary source of funding for a whole array of expenditures, including acquisition of assets and other expenditures. This is a complete departure from the original purpose and scope of the special accounts which amounts to misuse to the extent that more often than not they become an alternative source of funding for Ministerial expenditures. In one such case at the same ministry, the expenditure which had not been clarified to the auditors for relevance was the one related to electrification of clinics at a total cost of P51 007 630. In another shocking case, an audit uncovered rampant mismanagement of public funds where a contractor engaged to construct a junior secondary school in Okavango was paid close to P100 million for an incomplete project, which immediately needed maintenance due to defects in the construction. No action has been taken to recover such losses, remedy the situation or at least mitigate the impact. We urge Government to demonstrate increased vigilance in safe guarding public funds and ensuring that strict and serious steps are taken against culprits that steal or fail to account properly for finances. As things stand the economy is in a bad state. More people are losing jobs than gaining them. It is not a time to be wasteful and reckless when many of the citizens barely have a means to a living. Accounting officers must step up their performance and show that they are deserving of being afforded the positions they hold. Officers must be made to speedily retire their imprests, procurement should be done according to proper set standards and project implementation should be enhanced to reduce unnecessary cost over-runs. We cannot afford any wastage. And Government leadership should heed the Auditor General’s concerns and crack the whip on those that break the law, the corrupt and the negligent.