Government books in shambles – Auditor General

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

GOVERNMENT books remain in shambles, creating a heaven for criminal activities, Auditor General Mildred Chiri has said.

Chiri told journalists Friday that after going through the accounting records of all government departments, she was unable to give her stamp of approval regarding the accuracy of expenditure patterns.

In presenting her 2018 annual report, Chiri said maintenance of accounting records remained a challenge among government departments.

“As a result, I could not confirm the completeness and accuracy of some financial statements which were compiled from the Bank statements, payments vouchers and cash books instead of general ledgers,” Chiri said.

“Expenditure totaling $2 368 932 was incurred on the purchase of vehicles, generators, excavators, syringes, infusion pumps, a water bowser and biometric cards which were not delivered. There is no evidence that the ministries had followed up deliveries of the outstanding goods.”

According to the AG, some Ministries had made expenditures that could not be properly accounted for or were not backed by evidence of what exactly they had purchased.

“Ministries processed payments amounting to $7 280 598 and $232 187 525 that were not adequately supported with receipts, invoices, goods received and notes and competitive quotations and this made it difficult for me to ascertain if these funds were used for the intended purposes,” she said.

In what could be a pointer to the existence of ghost workers, Chiri said there was a discrepancy between what the government paymaster, Salary Services Bureau (SSB) and some departments claimed to have spent on salaries.

“Variances of $3 012 861 were noted in some Ministries between expenditure for employment costs shown in the Appropriation Account and expenditure reported by SSB.

“There is need for Ministries to reconcile employment costs reported in the Public Finance Management System against that paid by SSB to ensure that salaries are paid to bona fide employees,” said Chiri.

Regarding debt collection and management, the amount owed by debtors increased from $133 897 975 to $416 852 415.

“The increase demands for more effort to be put to recover the outstanding revenue by employing efficient following up system, with the bulk remaining uncollected for long periods,” she said.

The Auditor General’s office, according to Chiri, is working with institutions such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the police to pursue cases of misappropriation of funds.

Chiri called for urgent action to plug leakages in government expenditure and creation of strict monitoring mechanisms.