The Treasury paid National Registration Bureau (NRB) the sum of K800 million by mistake in April 2020, The Daily Times has learned.
The development has riled the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament, which is demanding answers to how that could happen.
Speaking when Ministry of Homeland Security officials appeared before members of the committee, Pac Chairperson Shadric Namalomba said they were not amused to note that the Treasury could remit such a huge amount of money to NRB by mistake.
Namalomba said this could be the tip of the iceberg, as it was likely that huge sums of money were being sent to government ministries, departments and agencies, with no efforts being made to recover the money.
“The mistake which the Treasury made by sending money to NRB by mistake caused NRB to have liabilities with institutions and service providers since they already started making use of the funds as they were notified late that the money was remitted by mistake.
“This kind of mistake is what caused Cashgate [the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill]. We, as a committee, don’t want a repeat of what happened.
“How can the Treasury be so careless with public funds [that it could send money to institutions by mistake]? We, as a committee, will be summoning the Secretary to the Treasury to give the committee answers as to what really happened,” Namalomba said.
NRB Director Mphatso Sambo said the incident happened in April 2020 when NRB was provided with K800 million that was not credited to the ministry’s bank account.
“The Treasury advised that the second K800 million [tranche] was [sent to us] by error and NRB cancelled the payments that were processed using these funds,” Sambo said.
Meanwhile, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira has described the incident as a deliberate tactic to siphon public funds.
“How can that load of money be misplaced just like that and how often does that happen? This could just be a tip of the iceberg. It is just another indicator that we are living dangerously. As far as public finance management is concerned in the country, it’s chaos everywhere.
“Sadly it is senior public servants and politicians who are perpetuating the looting,” Kambwandira said.
However, Treasury spokesperson Taurai Banda did not respond to the questionnaire we sent.