Parliamentary committees caution Treasury

Parliamentary committees responsible for public accounts and budget on Tuesday cautioned Treasury against non-remittance of civil servants’ pensions and its plans to spend K124.5 million for a five-day air trip.

Speaking during a joint cluster meeting, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Ken Kandodo said it is worrisome the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has not remitted pension deductions totalling K27 billion since 2004.

Kandodo: This is worrisome

During the meeting, Accountant General (AG) Sungani Mandala said Treasury has been struggling to remit pensions for 15 years because it gets inadequate funds.

He also revealed that Treasury officials intend to tour three countries to appreciate the benefits of international public sector accounting standards (Ipsas) in combating plunder of public resources.

Said Mandala: “When comparing a new issue, it is important that we travel to two or three countries to see how they are going with it. Benchmarking is so important on this.”

Capital Hill is still grappling to seal the leakage that watered the K24 billion Cashgate scandal in which civil servants, businesspersons and politicians siphoned public finances.

But Kandodo called for financial prudence at the Treasury, saying it needs to set an example for other government institutions by minimising its expenditures.

In an interview, he said the committee will ensure Treasury receives adequate funding but it should cut back on foreign trips.

Said Kandodo: “We are happy that Treasury made a lot of achievements in the 2018/2019 financial year… But it should minimise foreign trips. It should be exemplary in managing finances.”

According to Mandala, the country needs to migrate from Ipsas Cash to Ipsas Accrual in line with the 2003 Public Finance Management Act which requires government departments to prepare financial reports using generally accepted accounting principles.

The department proposed a budget of K600 million for the desired upgrade, but the proposed national budget currently under parliamentary scrutiny has allocated half the expected sum.

The K300 million allocation will also cater for the three-nation trip as well as meetings (K54 million) and training needs estimated at K18.9 million.

The committee was consulting Treasury to scrutinise the proposed budget and planned activities. Treasury has been allocated K11.9 billion in the 2019/2020 financial budget.

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