PAC warns ministries on ghost workers

Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Alekeni Menyani has said government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) should stop hiding behind systems failures of Integrated Financial Management Systems (Ifmis) in shielding ghost workers.

Menyani said this in an interview yesterday after meeting officials from Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development at Parliament building to answer audit queries for the 2013/14 Auditor General’s report.

Warned the ministries: Menyani

For two months now, PAC has been meeting officials from various MDAs where many have faulted IFMS breakdown for failure to produce evidence on personal records.

For instance, at the Ministry of Labour, about K895 million was noted by the Auditor General to have not been recorded in the financial statements in the Ifmis, which the ministry’s controlling officer Joseph Mwandidya attributed to system failure.

Said Menyani: “As a committee we are concerned. We all know that there are ghost workers in the ministries. The Auditor General has released a report which, as a committee, we have seen that there is a lot of ghost workers. We feel that if ministries are not reconciling issues of personnel, it gives a loophole to say the ghost workers are existing. We are so concerned and would like them to give us all the documentation.”

He further said his committee knows that the system is not as bad as controlling officers are labelling it, but it is a loophole that needs to be critically looked into.

During the interaction with PAC, Mwandidya acknowledged that there was insufficient relevant audit evidence on salaries stated in the financial statements which amounted to K895 million, but said they have since been recovered and await the Auditor General’s scrutiny.

“My office depends on the Department of Human Resource Management and Development for the provision of monthly master payroll backups, the observation by the auditors came about because Ifmis system was down during the audited period but I am pleased to report that the information is available at my office awaiting auditors scrutiny,” he said.

Apart from the unprovided personal records, the ministry was also asked to account for K54 million which was not captured in the Ifmis for material differences, payment without supporting documents amounting to K124.6 million, misallocation of expenditure of K82 million and explain failure to deduct K258 869 withholding tax from various service providers and failure to collect K8.4 million for occupational safety and health from factories.

For all the issues, the committee through its chairperson said they have noted the responses and are waiting for further reporting on some issues which need documentary evidence.

A recent audit by the National Audit Office (NAO) for the financial year ending June 2016 revealed that government continues to lose millions of kwacha to ghost workers, civil servants taking home double salaries and abuse of payments through allowances and other expenses.

In July 2015, Weekend Nation reported of NAO’s findings that government had lost at least K7 billion between January 2014 and February 2015 in only 10 MDAs through the manipulation of Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS).

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