PM’s office overspends

MASERU — The Prime Minister’s office overshot its budget for 2005/6 by a whooping M8 million.

The previous year the same office had overspent by a massive M6 million.

This was despite the fact that in the two fiscal years the same office had received bridging finance in the form of a supplementary budget from the treasury.

These findings are contained in a report by parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that reviewed the financial expenditures of government ministries as well as departments for the 2004/5 and 2005/6 financial years.

The report said most government ministries had disregarded the government’s financial regulations, overshot their budgets, left their financial books in shambles as well as misappropriated government funds.

Yet the biggest indictment is on the prime minister’s office.

The report says during the 2004/5 fiscal year the office received a budget allocation of M44 592 580 but had to seek an additional M2 097 492 from the treasury after it ran out of money before the end of the year. 

But when that fiscal year was closed the office had overspent by M6 036 042.

The following year, the report says, the same office received M52 271 020 but still needed a supplementary budget of M37 963 979 to replenish its dwindling coffers.

Still that did not stop the prime minister’s office from overspending by a staggering M8 358 253.

The report said the chief accounting officer in the prime minister’s office told the committee that the over-expenditures was due to some projects such as Smart Partnership, Poverty Reduction Programme, Food Management Unit and other projects that the office ran but had not been adequately budgeted for.

The chief accounting officer also told the committee that the prime minister’s office administration had also contributed in pushing the expenditure through the roof.

The report said while the committee understood this explanation it also noted that books of accounts were not “properly maintained” and neither were stores ledger properly maintained.

The report also says the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning also flouted the government’s financial regulations.

It said for 2004/5 the ministry did not reconcile the bank balance of nearly M3 billion.

And in the 2005/6 a bank balance of just under M4 billion was not reconciled.

The report said the ministry’s principal secretary said he had had several meetings with the financial controllers on non-compliance.

In the 2004/5 financial year the ministry overspent by M229 271 002, the report says.

The following year, the report says, the ministry overspent by M122 040 644.

The report also says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs overspent by M4 million in 2004/5 and M6 250 025 in 2005/2006.

The foreign affairs ministry is said to have overpaid salaries and treated refunds improperly at the Geneva Embassy “resulting in overstatement of government revenue”.

The Ministry of Defence overspent by M2 744 532 2005/6, the same year that the Ministry of Tourism splurged M1 253 342 it had not been allocated.

The ministry of communication’s expenditure exceeded its budget allocation by M756 089.

The report said during the 2004/5 financial year 123 government workers were overpaid a sum of M396 293 and some were underpaid a sum of M251 519.20.

“In 2005/6 they were overpaid a sum of M884 555.83 and underpaid another sum of M429 913.68,” the report says.

PAC is a parliamentary committee established to monitor the government’s adherence to the budget, proper accounting and governance ethics.

It is made up of MPs from the opposition and ruling parties.

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