Mthuli Ncube Disbursed $100 billion Without Parly Approval – AG

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By Alois Vinga

FINANCE and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube unconstitutionally transferred over ZWL$100 billion to line ministries without parliamentary approval, taking advantage of poor accounting systems at the Treasury, Auditor General Midlred Chiri said in her latest annual report.

The audit was for the year 2020.

Chiri said the approved budget for Unallocated Reserve as per the Appropriation (2020), Act, 2019 was $1 394 632 000.

“However, the Finance Ministry transferred a total of $102 085 420 418 to line ministries, resulting in unauthorised excess transfers of $100 690 788 418. The excess expenditure is still to be condoned by Parliament in terms of Section 307 of Constitution of Zimbabwe,” she said.

Chiri warned that if expenditure is not managed within the approved budget, potential acts of financial indiscipline might occur.

She recommended the Treasury to approach parliament to regularise the excess transfers and in future adhere to law which requires parliament’s approval of expenditure prior to disbursements.

Chiri also found Treasury wanting after it failed to account for payments made on behalf of the line ministries.

“My review of the direct payments register showed that the Treasury made various foreign payments totalling to US$22 024 406 made to suppliers and service providers during the year ended December 31, 2020. The expenditure was not uploaded in the Public Financial Management System 40 and hence, this expenditure was not accounted for in the Ministry’s Appropriation Account for the year 2020 with 42 line ministries disputing treasury’s claims that millions of US$ direct payments were made on their behalf,” said Chiri.

She said such anomalies could lead to risks of having total expenditure for the year under review being understated, hence the need for Treasury to regularise foreign currency denominated direct payments.

The AG’s report also observed that publicly guaranteed loans, the financial statements submitted for audit reflected an opening balance as at January 1, 2019 of ZW$425 000 000, which did not tally with the certified closing balance for net contingent liability of ZW$497 500 000 as at December 31, 2018 resulting in a variance of ZW$72 500 000.

“The statement of Contingent Liabilities might not portray an accurate stock of loans guaranteed by the government. Treasury should ensure that take-on balances are agreed to audited closing balances and any subsequent adjustments should be supported by documentary evidence,” said Chiri.