The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday warned Copperbelt Permanent Secretary Bright Nundwe that next time he appeared before the committee for petty queries, it would recommend for his dismissal.

But Nundwe repeatedly praised his administration saying that it had done extremely well in terms of management of funds.

The committee chaired by Muchinga MMD member of parliament Howard Kunda, however, wondered why the controlling officer would praise himself so much when he had so many audit queries regarding his management of public funds.

Among the queries that the 2017 Auditor General’s report found with regards to wastage of public funds in Copperbelt Province were (a) unaccounted for stores amounting to K4, 200, (b) wasteful expenditure-NAPSA totalling to K18, 025, (c) irregularities in the sale of bonded assets totalling to K966, 977, (d) over payment of salaries of K76, 284; (e) irregular payment of housing allowances to an officer who was already accommodated by government in amounts totalling to K6, 990, (f) irregular payment of night duty allowance amounting to K29, 632, and (g) irregular payment of rural and remote hardship allowances amounting to K184, 284 among others.

After praising himself for “performing well” as a province, committe chairperson Kunda asked if the PS still thought he had done well despite the listed queries.

“I just have one last question for you, do you still stand on your first stamen that you made there that you have done very well and that you have come here for us to praise you. Do you still stick to what you said PS?” Kunda asked.

In response, Nundwe insisted that his province had performed extremely well.

“Chair I am not trying to be comic but as a controlling officer, I always carry an inventory of what transpired in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, it was a graph. I still insist sir that Copperbelt has done exceptionally well but we still have a huge responsibility to make sure that we absolutely clean-up everything. So that’s my language sir,” Nundwe said.

Kunda repeated his question for the sake of clarity.

“PS I will ask you again, with all these issues that you are regretting, you have answered here. Are you still sticking to what you have said because it is very important for records here, you have been consistently regretting. Do you still stick to what you said earlier? because I gave you counsel. So I want to find out [and] I will give you an opportunity again, do you still stick to what you have said?” he asked.

Nundwe said he would do better next time.

Kunda then warned him that the committee would recommend for his dismissal if he continued appearing for petty issues.

“Having said that I would like to mention to you that we see as a committee that you really need to work on record keeping. It is very clear from where I am seated here that record keeping is really a problem with Copperbelt Province. So we feel that that should be resolved. And also the issue of being proactive in dealing with issues, if you are proactive in dealing with issues, people will be coming to PAC to back you on the back all the time, but if you are being reactive to issues…and like you have shown here that some of your responses are after the audit queries. Most of the issues are just showing that you only referred to after being audited. [And] issues of subsistence allowances, lunch allowance, surely we should be talking about lunch allowances here? It is unacceptable. We are thinking that next time, we should be recommending something else, to just put pressure on you, possibly if you do not do the right thing, to even be fired [or] to be dismissed so that we can have people who are going to put in their best to ensure that public funds are protected,” warned Kunda.

“So PS you have agreed with us that there are a lot of anomalies here that you would have resolved even before the auditors ensured even before the auditors, you would have resolved. And therefore next time we should not be talking about these issues that relate to lunch allowance. We will not accept that otherwise we shall start exercising our power in recommending for those punitive measures that have been put in this document (the Public Finance Management Act of 2018).”