Members of Parliament on Thursday supported budget proposals for the Auditor General's office but called for strengthening of its institutions, and that their recommendations should be adhered to. MP for Francistown South Wynter Mmolotsi raised a concern that Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) has not been audited since its establishment. “This is very serious concern because right now if the DISS Director General retires no one will be able to do the infantry as you don’t know the equipment they have,” decried Mmolotsi. He said there should be accountability when it comes to special funds especially levies as it has now turned out that they have become cash cows for cabinet ministers and their close associates. MP for Tati East Samson Moyo Guma called on the Auditor General to audit all the special fund as it is clear that most of them have not been audited yet there is rampant looting. “The National Petroleum Fund has not been audited for the past two years and now we hear that some of the money has been invested in some trade unions,” he hit out. Guma questioned the appointment of the Auditor General on contract basis while the constitution is clear that it should be permanent and pensionable.
Below is part of the presentation of Budget proposals for the Auditor General by Thato Kwerepe, the Acting Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration
I rise to present to Parliament the budget proposals for the financial year 2018/19, the Office of the Auditor General. Before I proceed with the breakdown of my proposals, permit me to present a synopsis of achievements made and challenges experienced over the past financial year. The Auditor General continues to produce her report on the Accounts of the Botswana Government on an annual basis as required by law. This report is a vital component in the accountability framework as the Public Accounts Committee uses it as a basis for the examination of accounting officers over the management of public resources disbursed to them. In the past year the Office of the Auditor General refocused her operations to be more responsive to latest developments in the audit environment. As a result of this, the Auditor General introduced audit of performance information after successful piloting. This type of audit seeks to establish the extent to which ministries and departments deliver on their plans and by extension their mandates. The coverage is still limited and the roll out of this audit will be incremental over the National Development Plan 11. The Auditor General also audited some contemporary issues including BOT 50 Coordinating Unit and the Economic Stimulus Programme. Last year I indicated that the Auditor General had embarked on a manpower rationalisation exercise to match skills, processes and technology for optimal utilisation of the human capital. This exercise has since been completed and has recommended for the creation of additional positions. Given the scarcity of Auditors, which often results in prolonged state of vacancies, the Auditor General has been given seven million Pula (P7,000,000.00) to fund forty two (42) posts for this Financial year. The remaining positions will be created in a phased approach over the duration of NDP11. These positions would largely facilitate the expansion of performance and Information Technology audit functions and the establishment of forensic and environmental audit units to effectively deal with emerging governance issues. Regionally the Auditor General has audited the Regional International Tourism Organisation for Southern Africa (RETOSA) and Southern Africa Development Community Organisation of Public Accounts Committees (SADCOPAC).
Botswana is part of the global community that adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as Global Goals or Agenda 2030. Currently, the Office of the Auditor General is carrying out an audit of the Government of Botswana readiness to implement Sustainable Development Goals. This year some key operational challenges have been resolved. The completion of our Local Area Network (LAN) project and the subsequent migration to Government Multimedia Network (GMN) as one of the four pilots across government has improved connectivity. When the project is fully commissioned there will be faster internet access and improved functionality of audit management software. This together with the acquisition of Integrated Data Extraction and Analysis (IDEA) licenses will bring the computerization of the audit process back on track. In the last two consecutive years I have indicated that the level of resourcing in both our internal and external travel votes is limiting our audit coverage. Hence the Auditor General has not been able to audit some key institutions here at home and most of our foreign missions abroad. For the coming Financial Year Internal Travelling and Transport has been increased by 79%, from three million nine hundred and thirty six thousand, four hundred and forty Pula (P3 936 440.00). Further External Travelling and Transport has been increased by 111%, which is one million eight hundred thousand Pula (P1,800,000.00) to three million eight hundred thousand Pula (P3,800,000.00).
The sum of eighty million, seven hundred and twenty thousand and eighty Pula (P80 720 080) up from sixty-one million, nine hundred and twenty-three thousand two hundred and seventy Pula (P61 923 270) representing an increase of 30% is requested under Department 1401 - Office of the Auditor General for the financial year 2018/2019. Allow me to present the key budget drivers in my proposal.
Salaries and Allowances
An amount of forty-nine million, three hundred and ninety thousand nine hundred and forty Pula (P 49 390 940) up from thirty-nine million, six hundred and thirty one thousand and five hundred and fifty Pula (P39 631 550) is requested under Salaries and Allowances. This represents an increase of nine million, seven hundred and fifty-nine thousand,three hundred and ninety Pula (P9 759 390) or 25% increase over the 2017/2018 estimates.
Travelling & Transport
A total of seven million and thirty-five thousand, four hundred and fifty Pula (P7 035 450) is requested under Travelling and Transport (Internal). This is an increase from three million, nine hundred and thirty-six thousand, four hundred and forty Pula (P3 936 440). This represents an increase of 79%. This is to cover increased internal travel costs and expand audit coverage.
Travelling &Transport (external) The sum of three million, eight hundred thousand Pula (P3 800 000) is requested under this vote. This is an increase of two million Pula (P2 000 000) up from the previous allocation of one million, eight hundred thousand Pula (P1 800 000). This increase will primarily improve audit coverage of our foreign missions and assist the Auditor General to play a meaningful role in the development of public sector auditing.
General expenses & supplies
The sum of seven million, seven hundred and eighty-three thousand and three hundred and eighty Pula (P7 783 380) is requested under General Expenses and Supplies. It is an increase from five million, two hundred and ninety-eight thousand, six hundred and eighty Pula (P5 298 680) over the current year’s estimates. This is an increase in the magnitude of two million, four hundred and eighty-four thousand, seven hundred Pula (P2 484 700) which represents 47% increase. This covers, amongst others, increases in service charges due to revised tariffs, annual renewal of Microsoft and Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) licences, increase in charges for printing of audit reports and furniture and equipment for specialised rooms. The latter is a once off purchase.
The sum of five million, three hundred and nineteen thousand, three hundred and thirty Pula (5 319 330) is requested for Office Rental.
The sum of two million and sixteen thousand Pula (2 016 000) up from one million, eight hundred and fifty-nine thousand, eight hundred and twenty Pula (1 859 820) is requested under the training vote. This amount is an increase of one hundred and fifty six thousand, one hundred and eighty Pula (P156 180) over the 2017/18 Estimates. This nominal increase will cover increases in training allowances and short courses.
The sum of six hundred and seventy-four thousand, four hundred and twenty Pula (674 420) is requested under the special expenditure account to cover vehicles replacement.
The Office of the Auditor General’s Development Budget of two million Pula (2 000 000) covers the procurement of additional audit management software and IDEA licences at one million Pula (1 000 000) and legal framework and capacity building at another one million (1 000 000). The procurement of software licences continues the computerisation of the audit process whereas the legal framework and capacity building is for improving staff competence and productivity. The budget for the two projects has been requested under the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration development budget. This concludes my budget proposals for the Office of the Auditor General and I request that the sum of eighty million, seven hundred and twenty thousand and eighty Pula (80 720 080) for the Recurrent Budget be approved and stand part of the 2018/2019 Estimates for the Office of the Auditor General.