Livestock Permanent Secretary Dr David Shamulenge says he has warned his officers at the ministry that if he gets imprisoned over mismanaged funds, they will have to go in too.
This came to light when Dr Shamulenge and his team appeared before PAC to respond to audit queries cited in the Auditor General’s report for the financial year ended December 31, 2017.
Senga Hill constituency PF member of parliament Kapembwa Simbao during the proceeding observed that from the responses submitted to the committee, it was clear that staff at the ministry feared PAC more than they feared the external audtitors.
“It seems as if the officers at the ministry are more scared of PAC than the Auditor General. I want to find out why is this the situation? Why don’t they understand that if they don’t answer the auditor General then they will end up at PAC? Why don’t they know that the Auditor General’s report is what brings them here? Why do they seem to find everything when they know that they are coming to PAC and they fail to find them when they are being seen by the Auditor General?” Simbao asked.
Committee Chairperson Howard Kunda who is also Muchinga constituency MMD member of parliament added to the question by saying “And they don’t fear the law, they only fear PAC?”
Chinsali constituency PF member of parliament Kalalwe Mukosa also advised the PS to make sure that auditors are given the required information during the audit process to avoid being cited.
“PS I think some of these issues can be resolved [in that] when the auditors come to your office looking for information and are not given, it is against the law,” Mukosa advised.
And Lukasha constituency Independent member of parliament Mwenya Munkonge cautioned that the late submission was creating doubt on the authenticity of it.
“Late submission of information to the Auditor General’s office gives doubt to the credibility of the information. So now in this age of forensic accounting, some of those reports which you are saying are available, should we use forensic tactics in determining when they were written? And as it is, we are in December, by January you should start preparing for auditors visits. So my question is why are we failing to prepare properly for the auditor general’s visits even on outstanding queries?” Munkonge asked.
Then Deputy Auditor General in charge of Audits Phales Phiri noted that certain information submitted by the PS to the committee was not agreeing with the information the auditors were given.
“Looking at the documents that have been submitted now, I can give an example of the same one where we are talking about holding of workshops without an authority as late as 28th August when the controlling officer responded. We were told that they had regretted that authority was not sought from the Secretary to Cabinet to hold these workshops outside government premises. Now we are wondering suddenly we are being told [that] there was authority given. So we find it very difficult, how do we clear such things? On one end we are given this [and] when we come to PAC, there is another submission,” Phiri observed.
She also gave examples of the queries which had contradicting responses from the PS.
“I can also give an example of page four where there was payment of imprest for a trip not undertaken by Mongu Provincial Fisheries and Livestock Coordinator (PFLC). Our observation was that an amount of K20, 000 was paid to the PFLO to undertake a tour for five nights. However there was no evidence that these activities were undertaken but an amount of K2, 600 that was paid to the driver was recovered. Now the response is that ‘no, the trip was undertaken and the reports have been compiled,” Phiri revealed.
“So we are wondering if you recovered from the driver, how then did the officer move to undertake that visit? And then I have gone to the appendix that you have provided, if you go to appendix five, the report is indicated July and August 2017, the funds were paid in May. If you go to the attachment of the register for the people who attended those meetings, the date is in September 2017. So I am wondering how then do we clear such things? Payment is in May, the report is dated July and August, the purported register is for September, for a report that is prepared in July and August. So we find difficulties in clearing such issues. So maybe the controlling officer can explain that.”
In his response, Dr Shamulenge said he would reconcile the matter with the office of the Auditor General and admitted that he risked being imprisoned for poor supervisions of his ministry.
“I have taken note and we will reconcile what she has submitted. Actually I have taken the advice very seriously and what I have done…and I know it is true that come next year it will be very tough. If I don’t supervise properly I might go in and I am aware because it is stated very clearly, and I have told them (my officers). And what I have done now is that I have told my internal auditor that if I go in [for] four years, you at least you must go in for 12 years if you don’t submit the internal audit report and he has submitted. So we will look at that internal audit report which he has done and then get guidance from the external auditors and see that we start working on them so that we don’t wait for PAC,” Dr Shamulenge responded.