Govt wasted €1.8m to buy embassy building in Berlin, but spent K2.6m on rentals elsewhere

The Auditor General has revealed that the Zambian mission in Berlin, Germany has still not occupied the dilapidated building which government purchased at €1,858,128.83 in 1999, but spent K2,697,653 on rentals elsewhere.

The Auditor General reported that although government had contracted a company to undertake repairs on the dilapidated building in 2001, works were not completed, but the mission spent K779,133 on security and maintenance of the structure in the year ended 2016.

“The building was not ready for occupation at the time of purchase as it was still in a deplorable state. Although in 2001, the Government contracted a company to undertake repairs to the building, the works had not been completed and the building was still in a deplorable condition and unoccupied. In Paragraph 31 of the Auditor General’s Report for the financial year ended 31st December 2011, mention was made on the wasteful expenditure of K459,521,366 (€73,823.80) which was incurred on overhead expenses such as heating and electricity, water and security services,” the Auditor General stated.

“In their Report for the Second Session of the Eleventh National Assembly, the Public Accounts Committee observed that the Government will continue to lose a lot of money on the maintenance of the building unless decisive action is taken to fund the renovations exhaustively or resolve to dispose of the property. The Committee, therefore, urged the Controlling Officer to ensure that the Ministry decides what to do with the property. A review of the situation and a physical inspection of the property carried out in July 2017 revealed that a final decision had not been made as to what was to be done with the property and the building was still in a deplorable state and not occupied.”

The Auditor General stated that the embassy had continued incurring rental costs and security costs.

“As a result, the Embassy had continued incurring security and other maintenance costs towards the property and had continued occupying rented property. In this regard, during the period from January 2015 to June 2017, the Mission paid rent in amounts totaling K2,697,653 (€269,765.34) for occupying rented property and K779,133 (€77,913.28) for security and maintenance of the unoccupied property, which was wasteful expenditure,” the Auditor General stated.

“In 2012, a Special Board of Survey was constituted to facilitate the process of selling the dilapidated property. The report of the Special Board of Survey (BOS) on the disposal of the property, recommended among other things that the property should not be sold but be renovated. However, as at 31st July 2017, the recommendation of the board had not been implemented. The building was being vandalized as evidenced by a broken window. The outside of the property was unkempt as the grass was not properly cut and the branches that were trimmed from the trees were lying around the yard.”

         

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