The Parliamentary Committee on Parastatal Bodies yesterday expressed delight and satisfaction over audit responses from the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) regarding the new records keeping system.
This was when controlling officers from the Ministry of Energy led by Permanent Secretary Brig Gen Emelda Chola and ERB executive director Langiwe Lungu appeared before the said committee to respond to queries cited in the Auditor General’s report for the financial year ended 31st December 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Brig Gen Chola told the committee that following the findings by the auditors of poor records keeping at the board, the institution had put in place a system of backing all its hard copy documents with soft copies.
And acting Auditor General Roy Mwambwa said the only remaining part was for his office to go and conduct a final verification of the responses provided by the board.
Committee member Mulowa Mukumbuta, however, insisted that there was still a problem on the part of ERB in terms of record keeping.
“PS, the way you have responded to the audit queries, it tells me that there is something lacking with ERB, that is record keeping. When you are good at adjusting tariffs for consumers but records keeping here is questionable. I wonder whether at one time you will even have records of how many times you have increased electricity in the last one year because I wonder whether you have increased records keeping, that is my question,” Mukumbuta said.
But committee member Brian Kambita commended the board for investing in the new system of backing up records.
“I also want to want to commend the institution for making that positive response in keeping records in today’s business of backing up your hard copy documents with soft copies. I am actually particularly impressed that you have put in a system and you are investing into your system that will help you maintain the soft copies of supporting documents. And there is no other evidence the auditors will rely on apart from those supporting documents. So these documents should not just miss, they should always be there, whatever it takes. So invest in efforts and resources towards that should be cardinal. And am glad there is progress made which you have quantified here. However we look forward to a much more inner audit report in the next report,” said Kambita.
And Mwambwa said his office would do a final verification and later recommend certain matters for closure depending on the findings.
“Chair what is going to happen as you have noticed these are audit queries from previous reports and the Ministry of Finance did do treasury minutes and the committee on outstanding issues has been sitting to look at some of these issues. So what is going to happen now is that my office will go and do a final verification and then recommend certain matters fro closure if that will be the case. Those issues which will still be outstanding, you will see them still appearing in the report. So its just a question of verification,” Mwambwa said.
In supporting the commendations, committee Chairperson Peter Daka urged the board to have a clean audit in the future.
“PS and your team you are being commended but next time we don’t need to hear these things standing for so long. At least when a child does better, its important to give commendations other than all the time weeping the baby,” Daka said.
Brig Gen Chola thanked the members for the commendations.
“Firstly, I would like to appreciate the commendations from the Honorable members. Like you rightly said, ‘when a child is being commended, you give it the morale to even work harder. So with the commendation that we are getting from the honorable chair and his members, I am sure that we are going to put in all the efforts to ensure that we put in systems where we will not be having records going missing,” said Brig Gen Chola.
And ERB Executive Director Langiwe Lungu said most of the problems of records keeping at the board were historical.
“We are grateful for the commendations from the committee and as we indicated, we have put in systems in place. Without sounding defensive, the problems that we found were historical, most of the management team had left and most of us had just been ushered in. The way forward is to have systems in place which we have worked at and actually this years, we would like to procure a management information system which will enable us to operate more effectively,” said Lungu.