THE Interim Audit Report on the utilisation of COVID-19 resources for the period February 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020 has revealed that the Ministry of Health transferred K60,884,345 from a Treasury account without any explanation and approval from the Secretary to Treasury.
And the Report also revealed that the Ministry of Health made cash withdrawals in amounts totalling K3,361,196 which was contrary to the Treasury and Finance Management circular of 2020.
According to the report, the controlling officer at the Ministry of Health stated in his response to this query that authority on the withdrawal of K60 million was sought from the Secretary to Treasury and there were indications that approval was going to be granted but that instead, the request was rejected.
“According to Section 32(5) of the Public Finance Management Act No.1 of 2018, ‘a transfer of public money shall not be made between accounts at the same bank or different banks without written approval of the Secretary to Treasury’. Contrary to the provision of the Act and the circular, the Ministry of Health transferred K60,884,345 which it received from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to a bank account held at First Capital Bank, without approval from the Secretary to Treasury,” read the report.
“There was no explanation as to why the Ministry had moved the GRZ funds from the Treasury Single Account at Bank of Zambia into a bank account that had been opened for Donor Funds at a commercial bank. In response, the Controlling Officer, Ministry of Health stated that authority was sought from Secretary to Treasury and there were indications that approval was going to be granted but instead the request was later rejected.”
And the Report revealed that the Ministry of Health made cash withdrawals in amounts totalling K3,361,196 which was contrary to the Treasury and Finance Management circular of 2020.
“According to the Treasury and Finance Management Circular No. 1 of 2020, controlling officers were guided that no cash shall be withdrawn for payment of subsistence allowances, fuel refunds and any other allowances. ‘These shall be paid directly into the beneficiary’s bank account.’ Contrary to the Treasury and Finance Management Circular No. 1 of 2020, between 20th March 2020 and 30th May 2020, the Ministry of Health made cash withdrawals in amounts totalling K3,361,196 which were used to pay various allowances and fuel among others,” read the Report.
“The Ministry of Health HQ undertook trainings in Patient’s Critical Care and Case Management of COVID-19 patients for healthcare workers in Southern, Eastern, Copperbelt and Muchinga Provinces at a total cost ofK2,361,419. The training was done in two (2) phases with Phase I being Case Management and Phase II being Critical Care. The total amount that was approved and paid for Case Management was K1,183,710 and K1,183,710 was paid for Critical Care.”
Meanwhile, the Report also revealed that there were weaknesses in the handling of non cash items by the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU).
The Report stated DMMU lacked criteria in the distribution of donated items.
“During the period from 25th March 2020 to 29th April 2020 the Unit received donations in form of face masks, hand sanitisers, methylated spirit, sprayers, hand wash basins, among others with an estimated value of over K245,760 from 12 companies and donors. However, the following were noted: Lack of Criteria in the Distribution of Donated Items; the Unit had no written down procedures to be used in the distribution of the donated items and as such the modality used in the issuance to various Ministries and other Institutions could not be ascertained as no priority assessment was done to ensure that the items are donated to high risk areas,” the Report read.
“In response, the National Coordinator DMMU indicated that the donations were made based on the risk analysis in the COVID-19 Multi-sectoral Contingency and Response Plan. However, no evidence of the risk analysis reports were availed for audit.”
The Report further stated that there were pledges and donations in terms of cash amounting to K2 million in provinces and districts that were not reported.
“In provincial and districts offices an examination of records revealed that, as at 31st July 2020, there were pledges and donations in form of cash in amounts totalling K2,860,000, Aid-In-Kind valued at over K2,028,001 and US$10,000 and other assorted items not valued. It was observed that, there was no mechanism in place to ensure that donations by various stakeholders made in the provinces were reported to headquarters for consolidation. As such the completeness of materials donated could not be verified,” the Report read.
“In response, the National Coordinator DMMU indicated that updates on donations made to provincial and district offices were available for verification. However, as at 14th August 2020, no reports on donations from provincial and district offices were availed for audit and the updated register of donations was not availed.”