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Public Accounts Committee doubts audit documents

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Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (Pac) has expressed doubts over the authenticity of documents government ministries and departments and agencies (MDAs) are submitting.

Pac has for the past two weeks, been summoning controlling officers of MDAs to explain issues raised in the Auditor General’s report for the year ending June 30, 2013.

The committee says measures should be put in place to ensure that all the documents presented are genuine.

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In an interview on Wednesday, the committee’s chairperson Alekeni Menyani said it is surprising that documents that were reportedly missing were being presented after an audit query.

Some of the MDAs that have so far been summoned to explain are the Ministry of foreign Affairs, Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Home Affairs.

“It has come to the notice of the committee that when the Auditor General comes to do an audit, he finds some documents missing, yet he gives adequate notice that officers are coming. But when the Public Accounts Committee summons a particular Controlling Officer, all missing documents come out. Without a scientific method of ascertaining age of the documents, are we being given right documents?” Menyani wondered.

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In the 2013 audit, queries with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation were that purchases of stores worth K28.6 million were not recorded in the stores ledger, fuel worth K71.8 million not recorded in the fuel register and that documents relating to the engagement of a contractor on a K1.9 million project were not traced.

But according to a response that the Ministry’s Principal Secretary Isaac Munlo presented to the MPs last week, all the said documents were found.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation acknowledges that at the time of the audit, the fuel register could not be traced. However, after thorough checking, the fuel register, together with fuel receipts and vehicle logbooks were traced and presented to the Auditor General for verification,” reads the response on missing fuel documents.

The Ministry added that to avoid recurrence of misplacing ledgers, it has strengthened record keeping by assigning an extra officer in the office of the Office Superintendent.

“The Internal Audit Unit has also been instructed to be undertaking routine checks of the fuel register and vehicle logbooks to ensure that any anomalies are immediately identified and corrected,” the response further reads.

Similar responses have been made by other Ministries which have so far appeared before the committee.

Menyani said the committee plans to write institutions that fund projects under public finance and expenditure management projects such as GIZ and KFW to support purchase of equipment that will be used to test the documents submitted.

“We want the office of the Auditor General to be provided with a carbon-dating machine that should be able to ascertain where these kind of documents are being generated and given to the Auditor General. The Auditor General should be able to get that document and carbon-date it and see if it is not a by-product of fraudulent accounting,” Menyani said.

During the week, Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa said his office fails to track some missing files or summon controlling officers in different ministries when files of expenditure go missing because his office does not have much independence and powers when carrying out audits, unlike in other countries.

“Most of the controlling officers are not having good record keeping and in most cases when we go there to do audits we find that their record keeping is not in order and you have to chase for information, yet we have a time limit. We cannot do the audit forever but at the end of the day no records are found, and when we come here, we find things are coming out because they know they are coming to this committee and try to do certain measures to ensure all records are found,” Kamphasa said.

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