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MORE THEFTS IN GOVT…Mushimba confirms suspension of 10 officers at transport ministry

THE Public Service Management Division has suspended 10 accounts officers from Ministry of Transport and Communication following an audit report that unearthed mismanagement of about K13.14 million under Government Communication Flight Department. The Government Communication Flight is a department under Ministry of Transport and Communication that government sources say receives millions of public funds.

The department, according to a senior government source, is supposed to run a flight for the government including for the Presidency but that such flight does not exist.

The source named those placed on suspension as Bruce Kabeli an accounts assistant, Nkeya Masando, assistant accountant; Victor Siuluta, assistant accountant; Miriam Kulwelwa, assistant accountant; Frank Sakala, assistant accountant; Douglas Hakayobe, internal auditor; Sylvester Shimbeza, inspector; Isaac Kumwenda, the accountant; Justine Chanda assistant accountant; and Gilbert Nkhoma, a revenue officer.

“These were suspended two weeks ago. They want to keep this secret but what annoyed people in the ministry is that money has continued to leave the department,” the source said on condition of anonymity. The source also said there was massive abuse of funds from the Radar account maintained at City Bank.

“The radar does not exist but it continues to receive money. It is the same radar that saw Dora Siliya prosecuted. I tell you there is massive stealing in government. During the Rupiah Banda reign, I even think there was no corruption, the officials, yes they could cut deals but with this government, it’s from top to the lowest, and we can’t have a country like that,” said the source.

Transport minister Brian Mushimba said he was aware of the suspensions but did not have the numbers involved.

“I am aware that there were some things out of the Auditor General’s Report that was being addressed to the Ministry, I am aware at that level,” Mushimba said.
Reminded that it was an internal audit report, Mushimba said: “Yes, from Auditor General’s report, we also have internal audit reports, it’s all audits and it’s part of the audits that we do. There were certain things that we picked up that were not good and I am aware that there’s administrative processes taking place to address those. I don’t have the numbers like how many have been suspended or how many are being disciplined or what but I have received a report that there was some type of audit that was triggered and certain and certain administrative processed are happening. My PS would be in a better position to speak to this. At a policy level, those matters, I don’t deal with them.”

But Lungu when contacted said: “I need to get more facts, I don’t speculate when talking, I like talking to the truth.”
Engineer Lungu earlier indicate he could not confirm such report and that he needed to find out from his staff.
Told that the minister had confirmed, Lungu said: “I like talking about things that are factual. Unless I confirm with my HR then I can confirm to you,” said Lungu.
And Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba has asked Lungu to furnish his office with responses to issues raised in the audit report on the Government Communication Flight operations.
“My office is in receipt of a report prepared by the senior Internal Auditor at the Ministry of Transport and Communication regarding Systems and Operations Audit of 2018. Analysis of the report shows the following weaknesses contrary to law, financial regulations and conditions of service: Thirty-Four persons occupied positions which were not on the authorized establishment totaling K1,346,512.61,” Yamba said.
“Sixty-Five unauthorized salaries advances were made to thirty four officers totaling K139,000 without application forms and no evidence of recoveries. Subsequent payment of salary advances were made to six officers amounting to K15,000 and no evidence of recovery was made.”
The audit also highlighted failure to remit statutory contributions for 33 employees amounting to K80,612.86 and that a total of outstanding bills and penalties to NAPSA amounted to K328, 215.06.
“No representation of lease/rental agreement to reconcile rent owed to Government Communication Flight by seven entities amounting to K2,335,299 as at 31st March 2018. Revenue amounting to K357,214 from four companies and one person was collected without receipts and rental agreement,” reads the letter.
“Failure to issue receipts on Deposits amounting to K535,764; payments of K2,278,016.63 from hundred and fifty four and K262,201.85 from twenty eight payment vouchers were authorized by a non-responsible officer; forty eight payment vouchers amounting to K368,928.27 were missing; one hundred and eight two payments totaling K2,548,218.48 were not subject to pre-audit.”
According to the letter, there was failure to reimburse borrowed funds amounting to K415,491.26 between Government Communication Flight and Ministry of Transport and Communication. The Audit also found transfer of funds amounting to K1,346,512.51 from Government Communication Flight to its employees between January 2017 and March 2018 had no treasury authority.

“Unretired imprest amounting to K185,685.08 were paid to eight officers; irregular issuance of imprest amounting to K36,490 were made to two officers; irregular payment of out of pocket allowance amounting to K343,000 were made to eight officers,” reads the letter. “Payment of goods without receipts and disposal details were amounting to K34,711.47; payments for fuel without disposal details were amounting to K93,311.96; failure to complete log books and ascertain fuel expense amounting to K93,311.96.”
Yamba told Lungu that in accordance with the provisions of section 11(C) of the Public Finance Management Act number 1 of 2018, a controlling officer is responsible for taking immediate and appropriate action on internal and external audit observations and recommendations.

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