MINISTRY of Mines Principal Internal Auditor Edson Simukoko says the Mines Minister gave authority to approve payments totalling K211,200 to 25 officers despite the internal audit department raising a query on the irregularity as cited in the latest Auditor General’s report.
The latest AG report revealed that amounts totalling K211,200 were irregular paid to 25 officers as sitting allowances for the Mining Licensing Committee meetings because they did not have appointment letters from the Minister.
And Ministry of Mines acting Permanent Secretary Moses Nyirenda admitted that there was an anomaly in the approval of payment.
Speaking when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, Simukoko said the internal audit department only submitted to the directive by the Minister.
“The payment in question passed through internal audit and internal audit looked at it. We even raised the query but then the authority was provided by the Minister on the payment of same allowances to members and support staff. So maybe what the internal audit did not notice was the absence of nomination letters but what we looked at was the authority which was given by the Minister on the payment of the same allowances to the members and also to the support staff,” he said.
But Chavuma member of parliament Victor Lumayi wondered why the Ministry of Mines had effected recoveries on the payments if the payment was not done illegally.
“The controlling officer had a query of 25 officers who were having a meeting and they got allowances for Mining License Committee meetings and in the submission the Ministry has effected recoveries. Is it the position of the Ministry that the 25 officers got these allowances illegally? If they did not get these allowances illegally, why have you effected recoveries? What action have you taken on the person who released this money?” he asked.
And in response, Nyirenda said the over payment was only made to the support staff who received more than the required amount.
“There are two different categories which include those members that actually sit on this committee appointed by the Minister and there are prescribed allowances towards these members. There are also what we call support staff and help with the work of this committee. We found that the support staff who were given allowances that were higher than what they were supposed to receive. So this is where the confusion came about. So it was not the actual committee that was overpaid. I think from the word go, it is an anomaly and we cannot go away from that. So certainly there was an anomaly that the other group was paid as though they were committee members,” said Nyirenda.