A recent government audit has faulted the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) for spending over K707.8 million (about $2.8 million) on salaries for seconded staff in district and town councils without appropriate documentation.
NLGFC is a constitutional organ mandated to ensure good financial management in all district councils within the context of decentralisation which has of late seen councils receiving billions of funds for development projects.
Reads the report from the National Audit Office (NAO) in part: â€œAn examination of financial records for the period under review disclosed that monitoring of expenditure of funds sub-warranted to various district and town councils for salaries of seconded staff was not effective.
â€œIt was observed that funds totalling K320 719 877.74 and K387 069 637.34 meant for salaries for seconded staff could not be supported with expenditure returns or reports from the councils to show how the funds were utilised. It was, therefore, difficult for the inspecting team to ascertain whether these funds were properly accounted for.â€
The audit, which covers the period from 2009 and was completed at the end of last year, reveals weaknesses in the committeeâ€™s internal checks and control which it shows that in some cases led to drawing of cash without being signed for and procurement of services without soliciting three quotations.
The report also shows several financial transactions at NLGFC which were found to be in violation of the Public Finance Management Act and Public Procurement Act, including unsupported expenditure of about K10 million from government property rates.
NLGFC executive secretary Wezi Mjojo last week said her office has gathered all expenditure returns on the K707.8 million salaries for seconded staff in councils, saying the documentation is ready for inspection by auditors.
â€œIt does not mean that that money went into somebodyâ€™s pocket. What happened is that at the time the audit was done, some councils had not fully submitted the returns on the salaries. The returns have been collected from the councils and reconciliation has been done.
â€œOn our part, it was just a lapse because we should have done the reconciliation prior to the audit,â€ said Mjojo, adding that her office has now started paying salaries of the seconded staff through the bank to address the problem.
On procurement of services without soliciting three quotations, she said her department identified and built trust with specific dealers to maintain its vehicles because it was getting a raw deal when the vehicles were previously serviced by other service providers.