The Auditor General’s report for the financial years 2018-19 and 2019-20 on accounts of government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) indicates that the Greenbelt Authority (GBA) failed to account for K8,694,124,139 of its approved budget.
The report says the Auditor General could not provide an audit opinion at GBA because the State-owned company failed to provide a financial statement during audit inspection.
“Greenbelt Authority did not prepare financial statements for the year ended 30th June 2020. Therefore, I could not provide an audit opinion” the report reads.
The development is a serious violation of the Public Finance Management Act and Public Audit Act, which require MDAs to prepare financial statements for reporting and auditing purposes.
The AG has since recommended to the Accountant General to continue the training of accounting personnel in MDAs to enhance capacity and improve the quality of financial statements.
The report further says the Greenbelt Authority failed to produce an asset register for inspection and that, as a result, the AG team could not determine the value of two dressing vessels stationed at Salima Sugar Company and Blantyre Water Board.
The report says the AG team was not able to ascertain if the GBA was achieving its objectives because the State-owned company failed to provide a risk management policy, operational and Strategic Plan.
The audit report has also faulted GBA for recruiting personnel without following proper recruitment procedures.
For instance, the report says GBA failed to produce advertisements and interview minutes for the vacant positions which were filled.
“Section 2, Subsection 1(i) of Greenbelt Authority (GBA) conditions of service stipulates that the appointment to any post shall be on merit and open to anyone with appropriate qualifications, skills and experience.
“Contrary to the above provision, GBA failed to produce advertisements and interview minutes for the vacant positions which were filled. As a result, the audit team failed to determine if the recruitment process was fair and open,” reads the report
Reacting to the findings of the audit report, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira cited interference by politicians as one of the factors affecting GBA operations.
“The report has exposed serious governance and compliance issues at the Greenbelt Authority that have gone unchecked for some time. This is what happens when you allow political party loyalists who are inept to manage large-scale State corporations such as the GBA,” he said.
The State-owned company was established in 2016 through a Green Belt Imitative Authority Bill (2016) of Parliament.