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Fuel scam rocks Parly

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…procurement process in shambles

chokuda
Kennedy Chokuda, Clerk of Parliament

PARLIAMENT is failing to account for thousands of litres of fuel after leaving out serial numbers in its coupons disbursements while also failing to provide documentation for its expenses in contravention of the law.

MOSES MATENGA

Auditor-General Mildred Chiri says the scandal could have resulted in fuel looting and  loss of money due to fictious payments.

It emerged that fuel meant for members of Parliament was not properly noted down by parliamentary staff and there could be reason to suspect looting as it was not clear what was disbursed and to who.

“A review of the MPs’ fuel register revealed that 22 000 litres (3 760 petrol and 18 260 diesel) fuel coupons distributed in March, June, October and November 2020 had incomplete serial numbers recorded,” the 2020 Auditor-General’s report on Appropriation Accounts, Finance and Revenue Statements and Fund Accounts reads in part.

The report noted that the act was contrary to the law and exposed parliamentary fuel to looting.

“This was contrary to the provisions of section 104(1) of the Public Finance Management (Treasury Instructions), 2019 which requires entities to keep complete record of fuel received and issued. There was no evidence that records were reviewed regularly by an independent senior official,” the report further reads.

She said the implication of not properly recording the serial numbers of the fuel coupons was failure to account for fuel used and disbursed.

Chiri also noted in her report that the procurement of goods in Parliament was not transparent.

She said it was open to manipulation as several items were procured without following tender processes.

“Goods worth ZW$12 906 032 were procured without following tender procedures. This could have been due to lack of training of staff assigned to carry out procurement functions.”

On direct payments, Chiri said: “I noted that a total of ZW$15 347 443 (US$613 893) direct payments made on behalf of Parliament of Zimbabwe by the ministry of Finance and Economic Development were not disclosed in the appropriation account for the year 2020.

“The risks and implications are that the total expenditure figures disclosed in the appropriation account may be materially understated because of the direct payments which were not posted to the relevant general ledgers.”

She said, consequently, there may be a risk of double payments to the suppliers and recommended that the appropriation account should be adjusted to incorporate the direct payments.

“Follow up of direct payments should be done with ministry of Finance and Economic Development to ensure that direct payments are posted to relevant general ledgers,” the report added.

In response, the management said payments were made by the ministry of Finance and Economic Development to the supplier and there was no communication to Parliament of Zimbabwe management in verifying how the payment was processed.

On payment of vouchers, Chiri said: “34 SAP documents with a value of ZW$14 220 243 were not availed for audit. I could not confirm with certainty the expenditure incurred. There was no evidence of supervision of the finance personnel by relevant senior officials to ensure records were being maintained properly.

“In the absence of proper and complete record keeping, fictitious payments may be made.

“Records for payment of vouchers should be properly maintained and availed for audit when required. Finance personnel should be supervised by senior officials to ensure proper record keeping,” read part of the recommendations in part.

“Parliament has not been recording revenue in the system, neither was it performing bank reconciliations for revenue received. There was no evidence of communication between Parliament and the PFMS Project office (public finance management system) on system challenges being faced.

“The internal audit department was incapacitated since 2019 as it operated with only one officer instead of four. Interviews to fill the three vacant posts were conducted in November 2018. No appointments had been made at the time of conducting the audit in September 2021. The risk is that there may be risk of limited audit coverage and inadequate monitoring of Parliament’s internal controls.”

Parliament, Chiri said, acted contrary to the requirements of section 48 (3) of the Public Finance Management (Treasury Instructions) 2019, which stipulate that money should be deposited daily in the local bank for the credit of the exchequer account by delaying to bank US$16 062 by a period ranging from 60 to 135 days.

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