CABINET Office says 25 controlling officers have been cited as culprits and charged pending disciplinary action on the misuse of COVID-19 funds and the continued mismanagement of public funds in various Ministries.

On Monday, the Auditor General revealed in the Interim Audit Report on the utilisation of COVID-19 resources for the period February 1 to July 31, 2020, that a total of over K1.3 billion was mismanaged in various transactions, which included dubious transfers from GRZ accounts amounting to K60 million and up to K3 million in cash withdrawals.

In a statement released following the revelation, Tuesday, Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Simon Miti said government was concerned with irregularities reported in the COVID-19 audit and the Auditor General Report for the Financial year ended 31st December, 2019.

“Government is very concerned about the number of Ministries, Provinces and spending agencies (MPSAs) being cited for audit queries as this has potential to undermine public confidence in the Executive and more fundamentally adverse effects on the performance of the public sector and service delivery. The concerns by government arise from the Auditor General’s Report for the Financial year ended 31st December, 2019 and the COVID-19 Report which have cited some controlling officers for irregularities,” Dr Miti said

“Consequently, Cabinet at its 22nd meeting held on 26th October, 2020 directed that disciplinary action can be taken on all officers who would be cited in the Report. To this effect 25 controlling officers have already been charged by Cabinet Office in accordance with the performance of contracts for the omissions and commissions as highlighted in the Reports. Depending on the exculpatory statement provided, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the erring controlling officers and their staff.”

Dr Miti said the 25 controlling officers would appear before the Parliamentary Public Accounts (PAC) in due course.

“The 25 controlling officers will appear before the Parliamentary Public Accounts (PAC) in due course. This is in respect of violations of the Public Finance Management Act No 1 of 2018 and the Financial Regulations of 2006. Government has however commended 37 controlling officers for adhering to the financial management regulations and attaining the target of zero audit query,” said Dr Miti.

“Government has provided the necessary institutional and regulatory framework for management of public funds, which includes creation of Audit Committees in each Ministry , upgrading of the finance cadre to director level and the establishment of the internal audit oversight committee which provides technical support on the verifiable action taken to resolve all outstanding audit queries. Furthermore, controlling officers have been attending various meetings, the last of which was the meeting on Sunday, 25th October, 2020 at Cabinet Office where they were reminded of the importance of resolving audit queries timely in their institutions.”