The Ministry of Finance says reports suggesting that over K450,000 went missing after the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) crashed are a misrepresentation, as that money was actually stolen by two former Ministry of Commerce accountants, who have since been fired.
And the Ministry says government’s commitment to transparency and accountability in the utilisation of public resources is bearing fruit, following the enactment of the Public Financial Management Act of 2018.
In a statement, Finance Ministry head of public relations Chileshe Kandeta clarified that the purported missing funds did not in fact go missing, but were actually stolen by a senior accountant and an assistant from the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry, instead of being given to the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), who were the intended beneficiaries.
“We take this opportunity to clarify that media reports indicating that over K450,000 went missing at the Ministry of Finance as a result of the crash of the Integrated Financial Management Information System is a misrepresentation. To put the record straight, the IFMIS developed operational challenges in January, 2018. The funds in question relate to the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, which were fraudulently paid to an individual for the year ending 31st December, 2017. The IFMIS, an information technology platform, which developed operational dysfunction in January, 2018, was restored in some sites in March, 2018. When the matter was brought to the attention of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, under which ZABS and CCPC fall, the leadership of that Ministry acted swiftly and dismissed two individuals who were involved in the fraudulent transaction. Mr Rodgers Mwanza, a senior accountant, and Mr Lukanda Matambo, an accounts assistant, were both working under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry at the time they committed the infringement of law on public finance, and were dismissed from the public service in December, 2017,” Kandeta explained.
“The case is now under investigation of law enforcement agencies and the due process of the law will be followed to the letter in reaching a conclusive end on the matter. The Ministry also wishes to confirm that the Report of the Auditor General on the accounts of the Republic for the year ended 31st December, 2017, has been received. The Minister of Finance, Margaret Mwanakatwe, has since instructed the Secretary to the Treasury, Fredson Yamba, to ensure that the Report is studied thoroughly and an action-taken report prepared before the next Joint Financial Governance Forum for Ministers and Controlling Officers, scheduled for December, 2018. During this week, additional statements will be issued on Treasury and public financial management matters. We will also provide another update on the action that has been taken against public officers who have infringed the law in management of public resources.”
And Kandeta disclosed that the State’s commitment to transparency and accountability in the utilisation of public resources was bearing fruit, following the enactment of the Public Financial Management Act of 2018.
“The Public Financial Management Act, 2018, is now the principal act on public financial management matters. Since its coming into force, the Act has helped to facilitate easy enforcement of regulations; offered clear guidance on management of financial reforms; and, stipulated offences and penalties related to public resources in both local and central government. The Public Financial Management Act, 2018, is also embedded with provisions that have now operationalized the IFMIS and the Treasury Single Account in law. Upon the instruction of President Edgar Lungu, and on the guidance of the Minister of Finance, an Internal Audit Oversight Committee has been constituted whose mandate is to make decisions on internal audit reports from Ministries, Provinces and other controlling bodies, and to analyse and give guidance on management reports assigned to respective government institutions by the Auditor General in order to forestall adverse reports in future audits,” stated Kandeta.
“The Government of Zambia Internal Audit Oversight Committee is chaired by the Secretary to the Cabinet and also comprises the Secretary to the Treasury; Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet in charge of Administration; Controller of Internal Audit – Ministry of Finance; Accountant General – Ministry of Finance; Permanent Secretary (PSMD – Cabinet Office); and, Chairpersons of Civil/Public/Teaching/Local Government/Police & Prisons Service Commissions. Following the upgrading of the Office Controller of Internal Audit to Permanent Secretary Status by the President, the Ministry of Finance is in the process of strengthening the cohesion and functionality of Audit Committees in Ministries, Provinces and Other Controlling Bodies. The Ministry is also in the process of developing a Risk Management Framework to ensure that, going forward, we achieve a significant reduction and ultimately, elimination of infringements related to the handling; storage; care; and, utilisation of public resources.”