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Financial chaos – Auditor General's Report shows

SHARE   |   Sunday, 15 February 2015   |   By Kabelo Adamson
Letebele Letebele

• Terminated employees continue to draw salaries
• Donors money not claimed
• Little monitoring of cash accounts – no reconciliations
• Broadcasting dept. overspends by P6m

A report by the Auditor General, Pulane Letebele for the year ended 31 March 2014 released this week has identified numerous maladministration issues within government departments, ministries and parastatals.
The report shows that there are instances where people on termination continue to receive their monthly salaries while some departments are yet to do away with their overspending habit. According to the report, the deposits accounts for the government carried debit balances of more than P39 million representing overpayments and errors which have not been claimed, notably an amount of more than P30 million from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development from previous years in respect to the poverty eradication initiative.
Additionally the Auditor General notes that debit balances in respect of payments for donor funded projects which had exceeded the amount of deposits and the overpayments are yet to be claimed from the donors or adjusted to public funds.
Letebele further observes that debit balances under Withholding and Income Taxes accounts which shows accounting errors had not been investigated and cleared. She says also the balances of withholding and income taxes which had not been remitted to BURS within the time stipulated in the Income Tax Act.
The auditor general also raises concern about cumulative balance of unclaimed 
court deposits held by High Courts, Magistrate Courts and Customary Courts, arising from old balances which have not been transferred to revenue in accordance with the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act.

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She cites the retention of former Ministry of Works and Transport Withholding and Income Tax balance as a clear demonstration of how these accounts are given little attention. As a procedure, she says, the accounts of the ministry should have been transferred to the relevant ministry upon its closure. “Similar comments had been raised by my predecessor on these accounts, and I expect to see some improvements in these accounts in future,” Letebele states.
Concerning the statement of cash and bank balances, Letebele says, as in the previous year, the audit verification of the balances of cash and bank accounts has revealed weakness related to lack of monitoring of these accounts.
“There were very little or no periodic, or at least year-end, reconciliations of the various accounts with implications on the accuracy of the year-end totals, and the totality of the cash asset,” she says in the report.
The facts of the audit findings are that, the Remittance Account which serves as the government’s main account was consisting of P2 billion by the 31st of March 2014. However according to the auditor general’s report, the year-end reconciliation of this balance with the bank statement balances had shown some unsatisfactory features.

This was not helped by the fact that a number of items were said to be under investigation including some unidentified credits going as far back as 2008.
For the year under review, losses of cash cases amounting to P1.5 million had been reported to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning involving 14 cases from seven ministries.
“As was commented on in the previous reports, there are considerable delays in reporting losses which occur in the ministries. In the current submission the reported losses had occurred on various dates from 2002 through to December 2013,” Letebele observed.
The auditor general says the likely effect of these delays is that any follow-ups and investigations would be ineffectual for lack of supporting evidence, resulting in write-offs.
By ministries, the State President appears to have used its warranted funds well within authorised provisions however, the Department of Broadcasting Services which is contained under the same ministry is said to have overspent for the second year running. The department overspent its sub-warranted funds by an amount of P6 million, representing a five percent of the initial amount.
The Department of Supply, which falls within the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning’s jurisdiction, has been fingered on a number of cases involving overpayment of officers who are on termination of service. An amount of over half a million - which could possibly be higher as the auditor general says some files could not be located - is said to have been paid to officers on termination. It is said the Permanent Secretary in the ministry has since written to the concerned officers notifying them about their indebtedness to the government. While some amount has been recovered by way of leave pay, in some cases the debt could not be recovered from terminal benefits due to restrictions placed by pension funds regulations.

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P41m unauthorised expenditure

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has used an unauthorised expenditure of P41 million.  The amount is accounted by Tertiary Education Financing and Teaching Management Services which overspent funds sub-warranted to them. Still in the same ministry, an amount of more than P4 million was spent on overpayments of teachers. This amount was arrived at by a way of sampling which gives a suggestion that the amount maybe higher. “Ideally, one would have liked to have given a definitive figure on the overpayments but this was not possible because of time constraints and the enormity of numbers of teachers involved,” the Auditor General says.



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