Saturday, August 20, 2011

Imprest can be retired on minister’s behalf - witness

Imprest can be retired on minister’s behalf - witness
By Maluba Jere
Sat 20 Aug. 2011, 12:00 CAT

A witness yesterday told the Lusaka magistrates’ court that imprest could be retired on behalf of a minister as long as receipts were provided.

Testifying in a case where George Mpombo is in court on an allegation of failing to retire imprest amounting to K18 million, Cabinet Office Management Development Division permanent secretary Medson Lisati said the minister was a very busy person and that as long as documents receipts are provided, imprest could be retired on his behalf by a senior officer in his ministry.

Lisati told chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda that upon return from a trip, the minister's aide de camp (ADC), who was usually in possession of receipts, was expected to retire imprest.

He said it was incumbent upon the ADC to see to it that imprest was retired and that if the minister had receipts, it was the ADC's duty to ask for them and retire the imprest required.

Asked by Mpombo's lawyer what happened in an event that imprest was not retired by an officer in the ministry, Lisati, who told the court that he was defence PS from October 2007 to January 2009, said the policy was that people who did not retire were loaned and monies deducted from their salaries.

He testified that Mpombo left unretired imprest which the office of the PS queried and that when he Lisati left the ministry in 2009, it had still not been retired.

Earlier during examination-in-chief, Lisati told the court that when a minister is going on a trip, he applies for finances for fuel, accommodation, food and incidentals.

He said upon returning from a trip, the office of the PS would request receipts and that it was expected that the amount spent should be equal to that applied for.

And an auditor from the Auditor General's office told the court that inquiries carried out revealed that in June 2008, Mpombo lodged at Luangwa House in Chipata for two nights and accrued a bill of about K900,000 for meals and accommodation.

Obed Mwale, an auditor said the bill accrued by Mpombo at Luangwa House was paid for and two receipts were issued.

Mwale said he observed that the receipts that were issued at Luangwa House were government receipts since the lodge was under the Hostels Board of Zambia under the Ministry of Works and Supply.

In this case, Mpombo, the former defence minister, is facing three counts of theft by public servant, forgery and uttering a false document.

It is alleged that Mpombo on an unknown date but between June and September 2008 in Lusaka, jointly and whilst working together with others unknown being a public servant as Minister of Defence stole K18 million which came into his possession by virtue of employment.

Mpombo’s lawyer then applied for an adjournment to enable him to attend to a matter in the High Court.

Magistrate Banda has since adjourned the case to October 10, 2011 but it will be mentioned on September 16.



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