THE Auditor General has disclosed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs misapplied K2,598,418, which was donated by the Chinese government for the construction of a conference hall, on unrelated activities such as air tickets, subsistence allowances and stationary.
The Report also revealed that three recalled diplomats received salaries in amounts totalling K341,318 without providing a service to government.
According to the Report of the Auditor General on the accounts of the republic for the financial year ended 31st December 2019, the report disclosed that a donation from China was misapplied.
“The Government of the People’s Republic of China made a donation to the Government of the Republic of Zambia for the construction of a conference hall at the Ministry Headquarters, with a condition that China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (Zambia) Limited be the company to be engaged to execute the works. In this regard, in August 2017, an amount of K2,598,418 was received from the Government of the People’s Republic of China and deposited into the Third Party Account for the Ministry while the Government of the Republic of Zambia was to provide counterpart funding of K1,180,207. On 3rd August 2018, a contract was signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Messrs China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (Zambia) Limited for the construction of the conference hall at a contract sum of K3,778,625, VAT inclusive with a completion period of six months ending on 2nd February 2019,” read the Report.
“The scope of works included design, excavation earthworks, substructure, super structure, roofing, carpentry, joinery and iron mongery, plumbing and electrical installation, flooring, wall and ceiling finishing and painting and decorating. The site possession certificate was signed on 30th August 2018. On 23rd October 2018, the contractor requested for an advance payment of K944,656 VAT inclusive which was not paid as the Ministry had misapplied the funds received on unrelated activities such as air tickets, subsistence allowances and stationary. In this regard, the execution of the works could not commence as the funds were only reimbursed on 18th September 2019. Consequently, on 31st January 2020, the contractor requested the Ministry to extend the completion date from February 2019 to September 2020 and adjust the contract sum from K3,778,624 to K4,987,785 VAT inclusive. Further, the contractor requested for an increase of the advance payment from 25 to 50 percent of the contract sum.”
It stated that a physical inspection of the site carried out in July revealed that only site clearing had been done.
“Subsequently, the Ministry approved the contract price variation on 5th May 2020. As at 31st August 2020, no payments had been made to the contractor as the revised contract had not been signed. In addition, on 19th August 2020, the contractor requested for a further revision of the advance payment from 50 to 80 percent. A physical inspection of the site carried out in July 2020 revealed that only site clearing had been done,” the report read.
And the Report revealed that three recalled diplomats had received salaries without providing serve to government.
“During the period under review, amounts totalling K5,991,972 were spent on the appointment and recalling of diplomats. However, three diplomats recalled from Missions Abroad during the period from January 2018 to December 2019 had not been redeployed and received salaries in amounts totalling K341,318 without providing a service to Government,” the Report read.
The Report revealed that payment in amounts totaling K60,669 were not supported with documents such as receipts.
“Unsupported Payments Financial Regulations No. 45 (2) and No. 52 (1), requires that all payments by cheque or cash for goods, services and works should be supported by cash sale receipts, official orders, and suppliers’ invoices. Contrary to the regulation, several payments in amounts totalling K60,669 (Ministry Headquarters – K15,000 and Zambia Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies (ZIDIS) – K45,669) processed at the two (2) stations were not supported with documents such as authority to travel abroad, quotations and receipts,” it stated.
Meanwhile, the Report also revealed that a recalled diplomat left an unsettled bill of K80,165 for heating services.
“London Mission Outstanding Bills not settled by re-called Diplomat Upon expiry of contract, the former High Commissioner was recalled and returned to Zambia on 19th November 2019. However, the officer left an unsettled bill of K80,165 (£4,134.77) for heating services. As at 31st August 2020, the bill had not been settled,” disclosed the Report.