The government spent nearly $7 billion in 2019 without Parliament’s approval in violation of the Constitution, Auditor-General (AG) Mildred Chiri’s latest report has shown.
The report, on appropriation accounts and fund accounts, also showed that the government was likely paying ghost workers because there was no proper register for civil servants. The report says in part:
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During the year under review, Treasury incurred unauthorised excess expenditure amounting to $6 806 340 654 as a result of unallocated reserve transfers made to line ministries amounting to $7 386 995 654.
This exceeded the approved budget of $580 655 000 in contravention of section 305(5) of the Constitution.
Treasury as the manager of the public purse did not adhere to legal provisions on the sanctioning of excess expenditure by Parliament.
Furthermore, I noted some variances between the schedule of unallocated reserve transfers from Treasury and the received transfer schedules of the same from the individual line ministries and the variances needed to be reconciled.
I raised this issue in my prior year reports and the matter is recurring.
Chiri also said the Finance ministry made direct payments to various ministries without proper documentation, a situation open to manipulation.
The Salary Services Bureau (SSB) records for employment costs had a total of $29 762 918 while PFMS ledgers had a total amount of $27 967 054, resulting in a variance of $1 795 864 that was not reconciled.
Treasury circular B/1/88 dated June 5, 2018 requested directors of finance of line ministries to perform monthly reconciliations of billed amounts by SSB against employment cost expenditure shown in PFMS ledgers.
No evidence was produced to show that monthly reconciliations were being done in compliance with the Treasury circular.
The risks/implications (of this are) salaries may be paid for services not rendered. The employment costs reported for the financial year under review may be misstated.
Chiri said the year-long delay in releasing her audit was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that made it practically impossible to meet the statutory deadline of June 30, 2020.