Thursday, January 26, 2012

Government ponders probing CEEC

Government ponders probing CEEC
By Kabanda Chulu
Wed 25 Jan. 2012, 13:59 CAT

GOVERNMENT is considering undertaking a forensic audit at the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission where empowerment funds have been plundered, says commerce Permanent Secretary Stephen Mwansa.

Appearing before the parliamentary public accounts committee which is considering reports of the Auditor General for 2009 accounts, Mwansa said the previous management committed various offences ranging from failure to prepare financial statements, unretired imprest, and non-remittance of statutory contributions to failing to account for loan application forms amounting to billions of kwacha.

"We have now increased oversight through holding of regular meetings with the board and management and we have also established an audit committee to strengthen internal controls. And loan disbursements has been stopped until we resolve all outstanding issues," said Mwansa.

"We are also considering to carry out forensic audits and inform ZICA (Zambia Institute of Certified Accountants) about the conduct of Dean Chanda, who is the former finance director, because most financial irregularities were avoidable but it seems Chanda has unlimited powers to do whatever he did with the empowerment funds."

But committee chairman Vincent Mwale advised Mwansa to urgently change the way of operations and instill confidence in the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission so that people could access loans.

"It is depressing to see that CEEC was run in a chaotic manner and instead of empowering people, the managers empowered themselves," said Mwale.

Bweengwa parliamentarian Highvie Hamududu said stiffer punishment must be imposed on culprits to deter current officers from engaging in similar activities.

Chinsali member of parliament Chris Mulenga said the government through the Ministry of Commerce was to blame for lacking oversight on operations of CEEC.

Chembe member of parliament Mwansa Mbulakulima said the massive looting that characterised CEEC operations should stop.

"It seems finance director Chanda was running the show and no one to control him because how can one explain the debt of K4 billion owed to ZRA and NAPSA, yet money was deducted from workers?" asked Mbulakulima.

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