AUDITOR General Dr Dick Sichembe has urged his officers to ensure that 2021 audits extensively look at citizen empowerment programmes.

According to a statement issued by head of public relations Ellen Chikale, Thursday, Dr Sichembe was speaking when he officially opened the planning meeting for his office.

Dr Sichembe also urged his officers to not only focus on utilization of funds in infrastructure development but also ensure value for money in the various projects.

“On infrastructure development the Auditor General also challenged his staff that Government has invested huge sums of money in Schools, Hospitals, Bridges, Roads and Airports and that it was important not only to check that the funds were properly utilized but also ensure that there is value for money in the infrastructural projects being constructed. The Auditor General emphasized that procurement and contract management was at the core of the infrastructure development as such auditors, as the last men and women in the line of defense of accountability of public resources must check to ensure that all procurement processes and procedures are adhered to so as to avoid the losses due to fraud and corruption in the contracts that Government enters in to,” read the statement.

“Dr. Sichembe further observed that, in furtherance of this, he expects Citizens Empowerment programs to be audited comprehensively as they target to improve people’s livelihoods thereby reducing poverty. Tied to this would be comprehensive audits of the Farmer Input Support Programme and the Social Cash Transfer as they too are poverty alleviation in nature.”

The Auditor General further urged his officers to carry out a performance audit on the Economic Recovery Program (ERP).

“Dr. Sichembe further called on his officers to proactively carry out a performance audit on the Economic Recovery Program (ERP) to assure the citizens whether the intentions of the Government would be realized even as the program was being implemented. He explained that the ERP is a successor to the Economic Stabilisation and Growth Programme which ended in 2019 and provides incentives to reinvigorate growth and build resilience while safeguarding livelihoods and protecting the vulnerable, as such the audits for 2021 would revolve around poverty alleviation programs and activities. This will help make a difference in the lives of the citizens thereby help the office demonstrate its ongoing relevance in line with INTOSAI-P 12 an international principle on the values and benefits of the Supreme Audit Institution,” he added.

Dr Sichembe also said payroll management should be audited comprehensively and expose the issue of ghost workers and overall hemorrhaging for the public purse through payroll related anomalies.

“Dr. Sichembe said aspects of Procurement, Payroll Management, Infrastructure Development, Debt Management, FISP and Social Cash Transfer among others will be at the center of the comprehensive audits for 2021. The Auditor General explained that payroll management should be audited comprehensively as the wage bill for Government accounts for more than 50% of the national budget and as such the issue of ‘Ghost’ workers and overall hemorrhaging for the public purse through payroll related anomalies must be exposed and the erring officers brought to book and prosecuted,” read the statement.

The Planning Meeting for the Office of the Auditor General was held under the theme ‘Value Addition through quality and Impactful Audits’ with a call for the Office to comprehensively audit the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) in 2021.