AUDITOR General Dr Dick Sichembe has clarified that the Financial Statements of the Road Development Agency (RDA) are audited annually while road projects are only audited periodically in order to get a better picture of the status and the cost of the projects
And Dr Sichembe says the audit of RDA, Election Funds and other audit clients were planned for and are part of the approved 2021 impactful audit work plan.
On Wednesday, RDA board chairperson Samuel Mukupa expressed shock on why the Auditor General’s Office had not been auditing the Agency after News Diggers reported that RDA had been requested to prepare necessary documents from 2017 to date for an audit.
Commenting on Dr Sichembe’s letter to RDA in which he informed them that his office would be conducting an audit of the construction of roads projects for the period January 1, 2017 to August 31, 2021, Mukupa wondered where the Auditor General had been since 2017, but assured the auditors that there had been no over pricing..
But according to a statement issued by Head of Public Relations Ellen Chikale, Wednesday, Dr Sichembe clarified that road projects were only audited periodically in order to get a better picture of the status and the cost of the projects.
He said some of the special audits planned for in the 2021 work plan included the audit of Public Debt, Procurement of crude oil, Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), empowerment funds, among others.
“The Auditor General, Dr Dick Chellah Sichembe, wishes to make clarifications on the sentiments circulating in the media regarding the audit of the Road Development Agency (RDA), Election Funds and other audit clients. Dr Sichembe wishes to inform the public that the audit of RDA, Election Funds and other audit clients were planned for and are part of the approved 2021 impactful audit work plan. Some of the special audits planned for in 2021 work plan include the audit of the Public Debt, Procurement of crude oil, Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), Revenues from Extractive Industries with a focus on mines and empowerment funds among others,” Chikale stated.
“Specifically for RDA, the Auditor General wishes to clarify that the Financial Statements of the Agency are audited annually by private audit firms who are appointed through a transparent process by the Auditor General in line with Section 74 of the Public Finance Management Act No. 1 of 2018. This process also applies to other Parastatals and State-Owned Enterprises. However, the Auditor General carries out what is called a review of the operations of Parastatals and State-Owned Enterprises which includes RDA through Compliance Audit and Performance Audit which is value for money audit in line with International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAIs).”
Dr Sichembe said for projects that span for a period of time like road construction, the compliance and performance audits were carried out periodically to obtain a comprehensive picture of the status and the cost of the projects.
“Dr Sichembe said for the projects that span for a period of time like road construction, the compliance and performance audits (value for money audit) are carried out periodically to obtain a comprehensive picture of the status and the cost of the projects and the special reports are produced. In this regard, the Auditor General would like to refer members of the public to the previous special audit reports for RDA which were produced covering periods 2006 to 2009, 2009 to 2011 and 2012 to 2015. Since assuming office last year – 2020, Dr Sichembe, has embarked on ensuring that the audits are up to date hence commencing this special audit of RDA from the time it was last reviewed,” stated Chikale.
“Therefore, the Auditor General wishes to assure the members of the public that the office is working within the confines of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 as provided for under Article 251 (2) which stipulates that “the Auditor-General shall not be subject to the Direction or Control of a person or an authority in the performance of the functions of the office.” He has since called on members of the public to feel free to engage the Office on issues of audit to get clarifications. The office remains committed to discharging its function professionally and independently. Dr Sichembe says the Office will soon embark on a stakeholder sensitisation program on the operations of the Office where it is expected that any issues of stakeholders’ concerns will be clarified.”