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Treasury wants answers to K6.2 billion audit queries

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After omitting audit exit meetings with some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with queries in the K6.2 billion Covid funds usage, Treasury has called for responses from the MDAs to explain their queries.

National Audit Office (NAO) did not conduct exit meetings with several MDAs after auditing them, a step they skipped to give a chance to the institutions to account for their transactions.

Audit procedures demand that at the end of an audit, the auditors should give management of the institution under audit 14 days to respond to the queries detected. But this did not happen to most institutions and instead, some officers were arrested before they could explain their actions.

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One general anomaly found with almost all MDAs in the audit report is the use of Request for Quotations (RFQ) for single sourcing instead of open tender procurement of goods and services.

But Treasury has given chance to the MDAs to give responses to the queries. Treasury has written controlling officers on the matter.

“Further to the letter of interdiction…which advised you to pave way for investigations on the funds allocated to your institution for Covid pandemic response, and in which the above referred letter of interdiction advised you to desist from exercising the powers and functions of your office, I would like to inform you that the Acting Auditor General conducted an investigative audit on the usage of the K6.2 billion Covid disbursement and has submitted the investigative audit report to my office.

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“Therefore, in accordance with Section 14 of the Public Audit Amendment Act No.10 of 208, you are required to respond with documentable evidence within 14 calendar days to the investigative audit issues that have been raised in the report as attached to this letter,” reads a letter to one controlling officer, signed by Secretary to the Treasury, Chauncy Simwaka.

The letter further adds: “I wish to further advise you to liaise with the Acting Controlling Officer for access to your office to enable you obtain documentable evidence and any relevant information required to respond to the issues raised by the Acting Auditor General.”

The letter dated April 23, 2021 and titled “Investigative report on the usage and accountability of the K6.2 billion Covid 19 disbursements” has been addressed to one of the interdicted controlling officers.

So far, over 60 officers have been arrested over the usage of Covid funds.

Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament is also summoning institutions to respond to the audit queries in the report.

Key findings in the audit report include procurement flaws amounting to K493,907,232.42; irregular allowances amounting to K80,277,500.00 irregularities in accounting for withdrawn cash amounting to K83,056,539.00 and failure to account for fuel expenditure amounting to K39,786585,80.

The report also indicates that K23,649,094.00 was unbudgeted for, ineligible, wastefully and dubiously spent.

The report further faults the MDAs for failing to use about K1 billion at the time of the audit.

“At the time of audit about K1 billion (K947,124,460.00) out of the allocated K6.2 billion had not been spent/used by the clusters that received them and funding to the Local Authorities was made without a basis and budget,” reads the re[ort.

The report has several miscellaneous irregularities.

These include K47,124460.00 for delay in usage of Covid funds; K381,656,321.00 for no receipted voucher register; K95,358,972.00 for untraceable Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) and other stores items and K21,942 603.31 on items not distributed to users.

Another irregularity is on K14,420,000.00 for having no duty roster; K8,452,590.00 on missing and untraceable payment vouchers; diversion of K5,803,000.00 for personal use; transfer of K7,040,000.00 without written authority and K3,241,215.00 being used for other purposes and diversion of office equipment amounting to K1,389,500.00.

The audit was carried out to, among others; ensure whether the guidelines in Covid-19 funds management were in place and that various institutions receiving funds were fully aware of them and that they were followed.

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