The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday heard how the ministry of Livestock and Fisheries purchased a Dstv decoder and paid subscription at K10,000 without supporting documents.
This came to light when controlling officers from the Ministry led by Permanent Secretary Dr David Shamulenge appeared before the committee to respond to audit queries cited in the 2016 Auditor General’s report.
The committee also discovered that most of the documents submitted by the ministry had questionable dates which did not match with the procurement dates.
The fiasco begun when Chavuma member of parliament Victor Lumayi questioned Dr Shamulenge on why the receipt obtained for the purchase of the decoder had a different date with that of when the decoder was purchased.
“I think I just want a simple clarification from the PS, the letter to multi choice, the receipt for Dstv, the money was paid on 30th March 2016 and the receipt was issued on 10th October 2017. So I don’t know whether this receipt was meant just for this committee or it is a correct document. One year eight months so I don’t know how we can believe this receipt, Appendix number two,” Lumayi observed.
And Committee Chairperson Howard Kunda added to the question.
“Yes PS, the date when this invoice was prepared, it was this year in October on the 10th then you are referring to 2016 March, how is that possible and that the cheque, cheque number 000041 was issued in 2016 but the invoice was only prepared this year in October. How will we be able to believe that this is the correct thing that you are trying to give us?” he asked.
In response, Dr Shamulenge said the mistake was as a result of misfiling or misplacement of the receipts.
“Honorable chair it is a correct document. I think this was as a result of misplacement because if you can see, it also indicates the date on the invoice, the description indicates the date on the invoice for 2016. I think it was a misfiling or a misplacement,” Dr Shamulenge responded.
Kunda then demanded to know the expenditure details.
“Could you please be clear, then also the description is talking about Dstv subscription but I have got a document here of the cheque, the name of the company which is MultiChoice, then expenditure details which says ‘purchase of decoders for PS and subscription’ so could you please clear these things,” he asked.
But Dr Shamulenge maintained his position saying it was a misfiling or the receipt or misplacement.
“Honorable chair we are still on appendix two, which if you can allow me I am reading the description ‘being payment made for Dstv subscription on 30th March 2016 PRM plus HD-PVR cheque number 000041. It was an issue of misfiling or the receipt or misplacement,” Dr Shamulenge said.
Kunda pressed further and tried to simplify his question.
“Yes PS, what I am trying to say is that the auditors findings on the same issue of unsupported payments is that it was purchase of a decoder for PS and subscription. But the invoice is saying subscription, for how many months? That would cost K10,000. PS you are requested to answer questions,” Kunda asked.
Dr Shamulenge responded by saying that the purchased decoder was for the purpose of current affairs at the office and not personal.
But Kunda demanded for the documents of proof.
“Yes and the other issues, there is a date here for 10th October 2017 as compared to the time you issued the cheque, it was in March 2016, what is the connection there? These are documents that you did not provide to the auditor general when they were there. Now, is it something that we would be thinking that you are manufacturing just to prove to this committee that you have these documents available now? Is that the case?” Kunda asked.
This time Dr Shamulenge requested that his Head of procurement who was present at the time steps in to clarify. And in clarifying the matter, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries acting Head of Procurement Clement Mukuka said the original receipt had faded, hence getting a new print out.
“This was a procurement for a decoder for the PS’s office which included a one year subscription. At a time the payment was made, as you may be aware, Dstv has got two ways of issuing out receipts. There is a print receipt which was obtained at that time and later on that receipt I think it had faded,” Mukuka explained.
“So hence that was the reason why that receipt could not be accounted for at the time of the auditors inspections. But however when this matter was raised, there was need now for my officers from the procurement unit to go to Dstv and get the actual tax invoice which is now in question. That is why when you look at the description there, they are trying to refer to the time when this payment was made which was 30th March 2016 and this payment like I earlier on said it included the decoder as well as the subscription. But at that time, the receipt that was obtained was a printed one but this one, upon request that is when Dstv was able to issue out this invoice.”
Kunda later noted that the ministry’s submission was lacking supporting documents.
“What about other documentation? Because when you are doing purchase of anything for government, there should be a trail, a paper trail. Why did you produce those documents to the auditors? We want the procurement department to tell us why they are not producing these documents and also why they are not keeping those documents properly because they are suppose to be kept even up to 20 years.
The committee further noted that the Ministry had over paid subsistence allowances amounting to K205, 000 to 35 officers.
“Overpayment of subsistence allowances amounting to K205,769 to 35 officers. You are saying the documents are there for verification, where are these documents? We want clarity so we need to see that what you are talking about is correct here. Also PS, we have seen that these attachments that you have provided, most of them if not all of them have questionable dates in that they are written this year meanwhile the queries were in 2016. is it not an issue of trying to hide some things or just being reactive to the auditor general and not being proactive? You knowing that you are going to appear before this committee and that is why you are now panicking to give us letters. For example this appendix three, it was written 201th November 2017, why are you being reactive?
Shamulenge responded saying “this is what I meant that it is a question of misfiling or misplacement”.