By Tarisai Machakaire
Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has exposed massive illicit financial flows within the Higher and Tertiary Education ministry.
In a report on the examination of the appropriation and fund accounts for the ministry of Higher and Tertiary education, the committee said the ministry lost money due to poor maintenance of records, delays in reporting and misapplication of fund resources.
“The audit observed that, payments totalling $121 000 made to foreign missions were not fully supported by invoices, receipts from suppliers and acquittals in violation of Treasury instructions 1216.
“The audit, therefore could not ascertain whether expenditure incurred at foreign missions was a proper charge on voted funds.”
“The committee recommends that the ministry should avail to the Auditor-General all the supporting documentation for the $121 000 by 30 June, 2018. At the same time, it should advise on measures taken to prevent recurrences in future.
“The Committee observed that the ministry failed to reconcile the outstanding variance of $23 902 between the sub-paymaster general account and the appropriation account noted in 2015.
“The ministry suspected that some transactions could have been processed into the System but funds were then not made available.
“The committee’s assessment is that, the ministry would have detected the variance on time, if monthly reconciliations were being carried out religiously. It failed to understand why it had taken the ministry two years to clear the variance.”
The committee also noted a $287 748 variance between the opening and closing accumulated fund figures in 2011.
“In 2011, an unexplained difference of $287 748 was observed between the opening and closing accumulated fund figures and in 2012, the difference was $158 382. The ministry attributed the differences to imbalances in financial statements submitted to head office by the learning institutions.
“As highlighted earlier on, the ministry indicated that some of these institutions were operating manual accounting systems while others did not have accountants with requisite skills hence the imbalances in the financial statements.
“It informed the committee that individual institutions had been requested to investigate the variances.”
The committee further there is lack of supervision of institutions of higher learning by the ministry.
“This was demonstrated by use of different accounting systems, late submission of financial statements and failure by institutions to carry out reconciliations to prevent imbalances resulting in Auditor-Generals expressing a disclaimer of opinion on the set of financial statements. Institutions were left to themselves yet the Ministry should play an oversight role over these institutions.
“The Committee recommends that the Ministry should fully investigate the variances and submit the evidence to the Committee and the Office of the Auditor-General by 30 June, 2018. The Committee recommends that by the time of the next audit the Ministry must ensure that the learning institution’s accounts are…
“Payment of $1 497 136 in salaries, wages and allowances to casual workers without CSC approval. The Audit observed that Management had used the income from the Fund totalling $1 497 136 to employ and pay casual workers without CSC approval as required by the Public Service Act.
According to the report the absence of debtor control system resulted in unexplained difference of $441 908 (2011: $1 166 107) between financial statements and the consolidated account.
“Failure to recover loans amounting to $201 344 (2014: $185 909)
“As observed in 2014, the Fund failed to meet its intended objectives due to failure to recover loans amounting to $201 344.
“In terms of the Standard Operating Procedures Manual, beneficiaries should start serving the loans six months after receiving the loan. Only one beneficiary had paid $1 000.” Daily News