The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament this week summoned Secretary to Treasury Radson Mwadiwa and several ministries including Education and Home Affairs over queries in the Auditor General’s annual audit report for the year ended June 2011.
The ministries were pinned on several queries in which the Auditor General faulted expenditure of about K3 billion (US$9.3 million) by the ministries and government departments.
Mwadiwa was largely queried over revenue under-collections and under-performances on development projects including construction of primary school staff houses under Masaf III and Millennium Challenge Account projects.
In his response, Mwadiwa said most of the budget figures presented to auditors at the time of the audit—which also covered some 2009/10 fiscal expenditures—were wrong as they related to a different financial year.
“I would like to advise with regret from the onset that most of the budget figures that were presented for audit related to 2008/09 and not 2009/10 which is the relevant year. This was due to transposition of figures at the time of printing,” said Mwadiwa.
On revenue under-collection of K6.53 billion (US$18.6 million) against a provision of K10.73 billion (US$310 million) planned for collection from road levy and stabilisation fees on fuel, he said actual revenue collected under road levy was K7.74 billion (US$21.7 million) against a target of K7.665 billion (US$24.8 million) while under stabilisation fees, government collected K5.599 billion (US$15.5 million) against an approved provision of K3.06 billion (US$9.3 million)
“However, these funds were used to clear losses incurred in previous months… Your honourable committee may, therefore, wish to note that collection of these revenues is dependent on the volume and prevailing rates for the levy.
“As such, the rates adjustment that was effected during 2009/10 fiscal year is the major cause for the increased revenues,” said Mwadiwa.
Ministry of Education officials were taken to task over K35.57 million expenditures in about 24 audit queries where public funds were said to have not been accounted for, spent without following procedures or misused.
In one of the audit queries, the ministry was squeezed on why it spent K321 228 .55 on fuel for a vehicle, registration NS 1671, which was grounded at Nasawa Technical College.
Principal secretary for Ministry of Education, Science and Technology MacPhail Magwira said: “Fuel worth K321 228 .55 was used in other vehicles since the vehicle surrounding this issue was grounded at that time,” said Magwira.
Magwira’s response prompted further queries from the committee’s members who demanded a “convincing” explanation on why the ministry kept drawing fuel using a car which was grounded instead of drawing the same in the name of the vehicles which were being used at the time.
Said Thyolo Thava Member of Parliament (MP) Lifred Nawena: “The controlling officer has performed dismally on this one. How could a vehicle which was grounded continue enjoying the benefits of being allocated fuel up to such an amount?”
Ministry of Education deputy director of administration Stain Singo said the responsible office kept drawing fuel in the name of the non-running vehicle because they had no other vehicle in their section to use for record purposes when purchasing the fuel.
“What happens is that we purchase fuel by sections and each section uses their vehicle when buying the fuel. In this case, the section was using borrowed vehicles from other sections because they had no other vehicle,” said Singo whose answer still did not impress the committee’s members despite passing a noted verdict on the audit query.