Auditor General Roan Mwambwa says it is unfortunate that controlling officers from government ministries have not been implementing the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the management of public resources.
In a presentation delivered during a ministers and controlling officers’ workshop on financial management in Lusaka yesterday, Mwambwa said the trend of irregularities had continued at the highest level despite the many interventions that PAC had come up with.
“The three highest irregularities that my office has recorded consecutively for the period of 2014, 2015 and 2016 are misapplication of funds, unvouchered expenditure. Though the challenge of unvouchered expenditure has continued to reduce over the last three years, the irregularity still remains one of the highest ever recorded. The issue of undelivered materials has also remained very high despite recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee at parliament on this challenge. Misappropriation of funds moved from K4,767 in 2014 to zero in 2015 but again rose to K3,618,127 in 2016. this is a serious draw back to good pubic sector financial practices,” Mwambwa said.
And Mwabwa said outstanding audit issues had increased during the period 2012 to 2014, due to lack of adherence to recommendations of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
“The audit queries increased from 719 in 2012 to 1,215 in 2014, thereby representing a decrease of 68 per cent. the number of audit queries resolved for this period had declined from 319 in 2012 to 288 in 2014, thereby representing a decrease of 10 per cent. Therefore, unresolved issues continue to increase from 400 in 2012 to 927 in 2014 representing an increase of 131 per cent. This implies that a significant number of recommendations by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee are not being implemented,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mwambwa advised that going forward, government should put in place a robust mechanism of following up on the Auditor General’s and Public Accounts Committee recommendations to ensure timely corrective action.
“The Ministry of Finance should ensure that all approved commercial banks doing business with government adhere strictly to the instructions issued by the government on the opening, renewing and closing of government accounts. This will mitigate against the risk of public workers colluding with banks in order to defraud the government. Full payment to suppliers of equipment and other goods and contractors in advance should be discouraged.payments should strictly be in accordance with the contract agreements approved by the Attorney General. Further, follow ups should be made on all suppliers and contractors who are paid huge amounts of money in advance but fail to recover government funds. There is also need to enhance controls on the management of the government payroll so as to ensure that only eligible and bonafide employees of government are included on the payroll and that correct dues are paid,” Mwambwa said.
And Mwambwa called for enhanced interaction and improved communication between his office and those of controlling officers during the audit process to ensure effectiveness of audit committees and promote good corporate governance in institutions.