Audit shows parly accounts in shambles

MASERU — The National Assembly’s books of accounts are in shambles, according to a draft audit report by the office of the auditor-general.

The report, which was for the 2006/7, 2007/8 and 2008/9 financial years, ended on March 31, 2010 but was only released on September 1, 2010.

The audit was done to check if proper books of accounts were kept and if all public monies were fully accounted for and that rules and procedures were followed.

It also reviewed and evaluated the accounting systems and internal controls to ensure that public funds were not misappropriated.

The auditors examined accounting and stores records such as payment vouchers, vote books, analysis books, registers, receipts, paying-in vouchers as well as inventory records.

The 23-page report lists a litany of transgressions by management of the National Assembly over the past three years.

The audit unravelled several misdemeanors by management at the National Assembly.

The audit found that there was irregular payment of salaries and allowances to Members of Parliament (MPs) over the period under review.

The report says MPs were overpaid their salaries for the period for the period April 1 to May 21 2009.

“The total overpayment amounted to M273 755.76 calculated on one hundred and two members that is M2 638.88 per member,” says the report.

The report also alleges that some MPs were overpaid their daily allowances.

MPs are paid a sitting allowance of M150 per sitting.

“Considering that the members are paid allowances on a weekly basis it is expected that the maximum paid in any week would be M750.

“But the tests performed indicated cases where other members were paid more than M750,” says the report.

The report however says the correctness of such payments could however not be verified since the attendance registers were not “attached to the respective Allowance Register Sheets”.

The report says there were instances when National Assembly officials who had gone on study leave continued to receive full salaries after the first six months.

Civil servants who are granted study leave are supposed to get their full salaries for the first six months and a dependence allowance for the rest of the study period.

But this was not the case, according to the report.

“Some officers were paid full salary after the first six months of the study leave which resulted in salary overpayments,” says the report.

The report says this was in contravention of the Public Service Circular Notice 15 dated 23 July 2003.

The report cites three officials as having been overpaid salaries to the tune of M28 844.50.

M Lelimo, M Mothibe and N Kori were overpaid M4 179, M2 969 and M21 696 respectively.

The auditor-general’s office recommends that management and the human resources department at the National Assembly “should ensure that officers are paid correctly, adjustments made accordingly and timely . . . and overpayments recovered from concerned officers”.

The report also says there were serious irregularities in the handling of official cellular phones allocated to the National Assembly.

“All the 12 cellular phones purchased in 2006/07 were not recorded in the stores ledgers while in 2007/8 of the seven phones bought one was not recorded in the stores records,” says the report.

“Two cellular phones were lost during the financial years under review but no loss reports were made. There were no details of these lost cell-phones due to non-maintenance of records.”

The report also says the National Assembly incurred excess expenditure to the tune of M94 809.86 for the year 2006/7, M2 511.59 for 2007/8 and M2 871 771.58 for 2008/9.

This was in violation of section 11 (3) of the Finance Order 1988, says the report.

The report also cites the poor maintenance of the vote book which is used to control and monitor expenditure in government ministries.

The audit report last but not least blasts the department for the poor maintenance of its Vote Book whose purpose is to control and monitor expenditure in Government ministries.

The report says a scrutiny of the vote book revealed numerous anomalies.

For instance, it says “some payments were made without initials of authorising officers”.

“This could result in payments made without management’s consent.

“No initials were made by the accountant as provided for in the vote book as proof that arithmetic check was performed,” says the report.

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