Friday, February 08, 2008
By Chibaula Silwamba
Friday February 08, 2008 [03:00]
The Auditor General’s report has revealed numerous financial irregularities at 17 foreign missions with the Moscow embassy having over K1 billion unaccounted for. According to the report for the financial year ended December, 31, 2006, the Zambian embassy in Moscow, Russia had not accounted for over K1 billion and had irregularly paid K14.6 million for graduation parties for government sponsored students.
“A cash count carried out on 29th June 2007, revealed a cash shortage of K15, 407, 800. Further enquiries revealed that the money had been irregularly paid to the children of a senior government official who were stranded in Russia.
As of July 2007, the money had not been reimbursed,” the report revealed. “Contrary to financial regulation number 96, imprest in amounts totaling K25, 371, 100 issued to various officers had not been retired as of July 2007.”
The report revealed that a former deputy high commissioner in Namibia was paid allowances twice for the same period.
“It was observed that the former deputy high commissioner was paid her full January 2006 representation, cost of living, entertainment and telephone allowances of K17, 286, 625 on cheque number 102647 dated 18th January 2006, and another payment covering the same period but starting from 19th January 2006 to 3rd February 2006 on cheque number 102690 dated 2nd February 2006 for an amount of K9, 957, 137,” the report revealed.
“Outstanding bills: A total of K110, 500, 000 was released to the mission for the settlement of outstanding bills which stood at K157, 534, 189 as at December 2005. It was observed that despite the funding of K110, 500, 000 for settlement of outstanding bills, the figure had increased to K333, 710, 876 as of December 2006.”
The report also stated that contrary to foreign service regulations and conditions of service, the London mission in United Kingdom paid the high commissioner and the first secretary in charge of protocol about K72.5 million as airtime allowance.
“It was however observed that the high commissioner was paid K40, 985, 095 in excess of his entitlement while the first secretary protocol, who was not entitled was paid K27, 189, 146 during the period under review,” the report disclosed. “Contrary to the terms and conditions of service which stipulate that an officer shall not obtain an advance while one is running, five officers were paid subsequent advances in amounts totaling K527, 633, 043 while the previous advances were still outstanding.”
The report also revealed that about K47.8 million issued as imprest to various officers at the embassy in Beijing had not been retired as of July 2007.
It revealed that about K6.6 million paid as salary advance to the ambassador in October 2005 had not been recovered as of July 2007.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the report revealed that imprest totaling K29 million issued to four officers during the period 1997 to 2004 had not been retired as of September 2007.
The report also disclosed that about K12 million paid as salary advance to officers had not been recovered by September 2007.
The Zambian embassy in Cairo, Egypt had not recovered K53 million from five officers who had collected salary advances.
Other foreign missions mentioned in the Auditor General’s report are Lubumbashi and Kinshasa (DRC), Lilongwe (Malawi), Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania), Gaborone (Botswana), Maputo (Mozambique), Stockholm, Luanda (Angola), Harare (Zimbabwe), Pretoria (South Africa) and Tripoli (Libya)
Meanwhile, the report revealed that a former deputy minister had not repaid K8.6 million for the home appliances he received but were bought by government.
“Imprest in amounts totaling K615, 568, 011 involving 115 transactions had not been retired as of March 2007,” the report revealed. “An amount totaling K5 million paid to an officer in December 2005 had not been recovered as of August 2007 and the officer had since been dismissed from the civil service and his terminal benefits were paid in full.”