The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is accused of contradicting the spirit of budgetary process by bypassing some of the laid down financial instructions.
In her report for the year ended 31 March 2014, the Auditor General (AG) Pulane Letebele says towards the end of the previous year, there was an extensive use of credit facilities with suppliers, notably for purchases of fuel, gas and repairs of motor vehicles on the basis that there were no funds and that the invoices would be paid from funds of the new financial year.
The observations were carried at the BDF Garrison in Francistown. These, according to the observation of the AG, was never done and, a sample of requests for credit facilities totalling P5 095 537 had been noted.
“This arrangement is unsatisfactory as it is contrary to the letter and spirit of the budgetary process based on annual appropriations,” says Letebele, adding that the financial instructions require that commitments incurred in a financial year should be settled in that financial year.
Further, she says, the were inordinate delays in servicing motor vehicles which have been sub-contracted to private garages for repair.
“At the time of the audit inspection, a list of outstanding sub-contracted motor vehicles indicated periods ranging from one to twelve months for what appeared in some cases, to have been minor repairs, such as noisy front wheel, engine overheating and panel beating,” she says, observing that these delays would among other things impact heavily on the BDF fleet utilisation.
An audit inspection carried at Thebephatshwa Airbase revealed that a contractor who was awarded a tender for service and repair of about 28 stand-by power generators as far back as 2011 at a cost of P1.5 million had failed to perform and was dismissed.
“The claim by the Defence Force for liquidated and ascertained damages was disputed by the contractor who contended that both parties shared the blame,” states the AG, contending that while the statement may contain some truth, the claim in respect of the advance of P101 125 made to him, not in dispute, had also not been settled, over three years since the matter arose.
Another outstanding matter that the AG feels requires further action is the stadium and swimming pool constructed at the airbase which were completed in 1995 and were only used for a short period of time after they were handed over and the two facilities have not been in use ever since.
“The Accounting Officer’s explanation was that shortage of funds militated against routine maintenance of the facilities, and that she had planned on major maintenance works to bring the facilities into use in the current financial year. This is not satisfactory,” Letebele says.
Letebele is doubtful as she says the procedure is that the provision of recreational facilities such as these two carries with it the implication that maintenance funds would be made available to achieve the objective of those facilities.
During the year under review, BDF is the only institution under the ministry it falls under which has overspent the funds sub-warranted to it. This resulted in an overall unauthorised expenditure of the ministry to an amount of more than P5 million, something which is said to be contrary to the Finance Warrant issued to the accounting officer.