Treasury fails to account for 1 billion debt

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Treasury failed to avail source documents to support expenditure of $1 970 093 271 incurred on service and repayment of public debt, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has said. 

Chiri had raised alarm in the 2018 audit and noted that by the end of the recently released report of the auditor-general for the financial year ended December 31, 2019, all follow ups had hit a brick wall.

Elsewhere, on the Revolving Agricultural Inputs Program, Chiri noted that Treasury entered into two contracts with a private lender for the financing of the 2018 winter wheat season worth $58 582 500 and $353 732 600 under the Special Maize and Soya Beans program for 2018/2019 summer season. 

“The issue was not addressed as Treasury was not able to submit reconciliations of crop inputs values to loan amounts,”Chiri said. 

“On the issue of Retention funds appropriated by Parliament to Ministries amounting to $412 566 000, Treasury had not yet given detailed guidelines to Ministries on how they should account for the funds,” she added. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Child Care could not avail supporting documents for payments worth $2 911 172 made to various suppliers of goods and services, Chiri noted.

The payment vouchers had no invoices and or receipts confirming receipt of the amounts paid. This was contrary to the provisions of section 81 of the Public Finance Management Act [Chapter 22:19] which require all source documents to be obtained and attached to vouchers.

“I noted with concern that there was no evidence on how funds transferred from Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) during 2019 amounting to $657 500 000 were utilized as only 2 out of 85 projects were completed. Furthermore, there was no system in place to track on how funds transferred to IDBZ by the Ministry were supposed to be accounted for,” Chiri pointed out.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, through the Department of National Archives made payments amounting to $170 552 that were not supported by requests, receipts and goods received vouchers as proof that the recorded transactions really occurred.

The auditor-general report for the financial year ended December 31, 2019 was recently released. It had been delayed due to the global pandemic – Covid 19 with Chiri saying this made it practically impossible to meet the statutory deadline of June 30, 2020. 

The pandemic caused a lot of disruptions to business operations for both the auditee and the auditor due to policies and measures taken by Government to fight the spread of the coronavirus. 

Such measures included among others, lockdowns, curfews, social distancing, wearing of masks, constant washing of hands and downsizing of operations by all institutions. Resultantly there were short working hours. 

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