Saturday, August 28, 2010

Govt won’t act on Auditor General’s report immediately

Govt won’t act on Auditor General’s report immediately
By Kombe Chimpinde
Fri 27 Aug. 2010, 14:20 CAT

Finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane has said government will not take immediate action on the mismanagement and irregularities cited in the Auditor General’s report until an extensive study of the report is done to avoid making haste actions and decisions.

And Musokotwane has also disclosed that government has still not accessed the colossal outstanding debts running over K1 trillion from mines that are owing from mineral royalty, windfall and corporate taxes.

In an interview with Post Online over the recently published Auditor General’s report which has been charaterised by mismanagement and glaring financial irregularities especially in parastatals, Musokotwane said government would take time to study the contents before it considers any action on erring officers.

“Cases when it comes to human beings you have to take them seriously. You can't take a report at face value you must study it properly a. You have seen when people go to court and present a case they end up losing.

Some people start saying government is interfering with the judiciary, the answer is no! The way you present cases to courts of law is as important as evidence presented and the same goes for those cases of mismanagement and individuals cited in the reports,” he explained.

Musokotwane said that government was studying both the audit on the roads development and the current Auditor General’s report that has highlighted glaring financial irregulaties in most parastatals .

“I think you just don’t act, because you have to study the matter carefully because if you act hastily …you know this is a democratic dispensation. You have to study first to determine that cases are watertight then you act,” he said.

Musokotwane said there was need to study and determine the level of people who were directly responsible where mismanagements were cited and then hand over the matters to law enforcement agencies to investigate.

”...we are not ACC(Anti Corruption Commission) or DEC(Drug Enforcement Commission). So we when we determine sufficient evidence on the irregularities that have been highlighted then we will hand over this issue to specialized agencies. Where there is need for administrative action, it will be taken, “ Musokotwane said.

He was however quick to mention that government was hopeful that that the newly introduced audit committees that have lasted for a year now were the answer to financial mismanagement and accountability in the public service sector.

“ The audit committees in my view though this is the first time that we are introducing this concept in Zambia, I think it should be of help because we will have people outside the establishment sitting on the committees receiving these audit reports so if there was any tendency by people from institutions of glossing over issues, this should be reduced or totally eliminated,” Musokotwane said.
The current auditor general report for the year 2008 and 2009 revealed glaring financial mismanagement.

And Musokotwane said the national treasury has not received the outstanding debts in mineral, windfall and royalty tax due to disputes arising from the latter's decision to review development agreements.

“We are still holding discussions, we will tell you what will transpire but yes it true that mining firms are owing us an amount of money owing from the provisions that existed for the windfall tax,” he said.

“There is also some amount owing as a result of disputes on development agreements. Like the mineral tax was at o.6 per cent , it has changed to 3 per cent. Some mining companies are saying we don’t recognise this 3 per cent and still paid what was in the old agreements but you see we have to move forward,” Musokotwane explained.

He further explained that others were saying that they could not pay the new 30 per cent of corporate tax hike which has increased by 5 per cent in the reviewed development Act which also saw government scrapping off the controversial windfall tax.

“Government is currently having talks with the mining firms. We want to get this matter behind us this year,” said Musokotwane.

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At 6:04 PM , Blogger MissBwalya said...

So, in the case of a vendor who was supposed to supply an online payroll system for the Judiciary or the other who was supposed to install a generator at the airport but reneged on their contracts AFTER receiving payments we’re just supposed to look the other way and not pursue repayment? We need to start getting serious about accountability and responsibility for state funds. Who will lead the charge?


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