Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Auditor-General Ms Mildred Chiri has rapped Treasury for failing to account for 1 200 computers worth $1,1 million donated by development partners and to properly record Government indebtedness, thereby distorting public debt and exposing the Exchequer to fraud.
In her year ending December 31, 2017 audit report, Ms Chiri said there were no signed issue vouchers for recipients of the 1 200 computers donated by the African Development Bank to be distributed among Government departments across the country.
“Most issue and receipt vouchers were not signed by officials who received the donation,” she said.
“This was contrary to provisions of Section 4.5 of the Accounting Procedures’ Manual, which requires that movement of assets in Government be documented through signed issue and receipt vouchers for accountability.
“The risk is that the computers may have been distributed to undeserving officers in the absence of criteria for distribution.”
In its response, Treasury submitted that the responsible ministry during that time, Ministry of Information Communication and Technology, Postal and Courier Services had made beneficiaries sign for the computers together with their identity particulars.
“The Ministry of ICT in consultation with the Accountant-General are responsible for coming up with a criteria for the distribution, taking into account the needs of ministries, and networked areas that deserve to be given computers,” said Treasury.
It was also noted that in some instances, foreign loans were erroneously classified as domestic debts.
“There were instances where foreign loans were classified as domestic loans,” said Ms Chiri.
“As a result, $7 629 959 for foreign loan repayments to Holburd & Hydrery and GePetrol were erroneously classified as domestic loan repayments. Most of the affected loans were those that were assumed by the Government from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
“The risk is fraudulent activities may go undetected if reconciliations are not performed regularly and loans are misclassified.”
In response, Treasury said: “Differences between payment schedule from Treasury and Statement of Public Debt may have been a result of unmatched payments, which were highlighted as notes to the Statement of Public Debt.
“Although Treasury classified the payments as domestic debt, the Public Debt Management Office correctly classified the debts as external.”
On Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Ms Chiri bemoaned the fact that Treasury did not have access to the revenue collector’s internal system to enhance transparency on collected revenue.
“There is a principal-agent relationship between the Government and Zimra,” she said.
“Zimra collects revenue of taxes on income and profits on behalf of the Government and processes it through its Systems Application Products in the Commissioner-General’s Account. It then submits reports of pay overs into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) to Treasury, which then manually uploads the collection into its SAP system. There was no interface between Zimra and Ministry of Finance SAP systems, and as such, the Accountant-General had no access to the Commissioner-General’s account, save for the weekly reports that the Accountant-General received on pay overs into the CRF.
“There is risk that transparency and accountability maybe compromised if the principal has no viewing rights in respect of collections made on his behalf.”