Auditor General under-fire for bringing ‘half-baked’ report to Parliament
Auditor-General Mildred Chiri is under fire for allegedly bringing 2021 audit statements without overall appropriation of how much was used during the year by government parastatals and departments.
Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti revealed this during Tuesday’s National Assembly sitting. He urged the Speaker of the house Jacob Mudenda to direct the Public Accounts Committee to summon the Auditor-General to explain.
As you are aware, we received through our e-mails, as Members of Parliament, the 2021 audit statements by the Auditor-General covering two accounts, the appropriation accounts of Government Ministries and local authorities, the appropriation accounts of local authorities then followed subsequently, as you are aware Hon. Speaker,” he said.
“Hon. Speaker, I am gravely concerned that having looked at the appropriation accounts for 2021, those accounts must be prepared according to the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).
“They must also be prepared according to the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSA).”
Biti said the latest report had no appropriation account that was supposed to be commended on by the Auditor in respect of about six key Ministries.
“These include- Vote 5, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development; Vote 8, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement; Vote 14, the Ministry of Health and Child Care; Vote 16, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education; Vote 17, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development; Vote 18, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage; and Vote 26, the Public Service Commission,” he said.
“The appropriation accounts are the accounts that tell us how much was spent and received. Overally Mr. Speaker Sir, the audit report does not have an overall appropriation of how much was used in 2021.
“I ask Mr. Speaker Sir, that you direct the Minister of Finance to come and give an explanation as to why there are no appropriation accounts for those particular votes and why there is no overall appropriation account audit.
“I also ask Mr. Speaker Sir, that the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee be directed to summon the Auditor-General so that she can explain before the Committee why the 2021 audit report which has been put in our emails does not meet those standards? This is so important given the high levels of corruption in our country at the present moment.”
Accordingly, Mudenda directed the Public Accounts Committee to summon the Auditor-General to explain the issue.
“I would rather go by your last recommendation, that is, the Public Accounts Committee must summon the Auditor-General to find out why those Votes have not been accounted for,” he said.
In the latest report, Chiri, however, noted that most State entities were yet to align their practices and policies with the provisions of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act after 53 entities failed to submit their financial statements for audit.
She said at the time of producing the report in relation to the 2019, 2020 and 2021 financial years, 77 audits had been completed, and 100 were in progress.
“There were 53 entities that had not yet submitted financial statements for audit. Among those in arrears were four entities whose accounts were in arrears of more than three years,” Chiri said.
“While I appreciate the efforts made by government in the form of statutory/structural reforms, inter alia, enactment of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act [Chapter 10:31], establishment of the Corporate Governance Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Central Internal Audit unit in the ministry of Finance and Economic Development etcetera, most entities are yet to align their practices and policies with the provisions of the Act,” Chiri added.