Government Ministries and departments have cumulatively splashed more than N$114 million on Subsistence and Travel (S&T) allowances while under-spending figures in excess of N$700 million during the financial years 2012 and 2013.
The Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture (MoYNSSC), Ministry of Finance (MoF), Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MoICT), The Ministry of Veteran Affairs (MoVA), The Ministry of Agriculture, Water & Forestry (MoAWF) several other governmental departments have spent over N$114 million on S&T, with the MoAWF spending the lion’s share of N$58, 765, 586.01 on travel and subsistence expenses, while recording under-expenditure of more than N$450 million over the financial year that ended in March 2013.
The revelation comes at a time when Government is struggling to complete the bulk of its projects because of the poor execution rate coupled with a prolonged debating period in parliament before the funds are availed for use.
Among other anomalies picked up by the Auditor General (AG), Junias Kandjeke, in his audit for the year 2013, is the continued failure by the ministerial accounting officers to provide bank reconciliation statements. He also recommended the need for some ministries and agencies to take stock of their operations expenditure as recommended by treasury.
The AG lamented the MoAWF’s under expenditure over the aforementioned period, saying, “The total budget was underspent with a total of N$ 458 463 360.63. This under expenditure could have been used for other pressing needs in the country”.
The AG is also extremely concerned about the non-remittance of S&T within the stipulated period of 30 days by some Government employees. “The suspense account reflected an outstanding balance on the subsistence and travelling amounting to N$654 448.00. However, the statement by the accounting officer shows an outstanding amount of N$673 498.
“The difference of N$19 050, 37 has to be explained by the accounting officer. The accounting officer also recorded an outstanding subsistence advance for more than 30 days amounting to N$16 365. According to treasury instructions subsistence and travel advances should be processed within 30 days after return from trip. If not these advances should be recovered from the employee’s salary immediately,” he said.
Government normally takes longer debating budget allocations before releasing the money for use. A move that many analyst have castigated, saying it has detrimental effects on the rate of execution for ministries.
This is confirmed by the latest audited financial reports presented to parliament last week. In most of the audited financial reports presented to the parliament (in The Villager’s possession) some ministries and government departments are also not in a position to account or explain how the S&T was spent.
A breakdown of the expenditure patterns within Government shows that Ministry of Information and Communication Technology underspent by N$11 million , Department of Works under the Ministry of Works and Transport underspent by N$118 090 590 while correctional services underspend by N$1,212,089.
Commenting further on Government’s insatiable appetite for expenditure on travel Kandjeke said, “During the audit of the Namibian Correctional Services it was found that the S&T advance suspense account is indicating an unclear debit balance of N$463 452. However, only N$1 209 743 was reflected in the debit list provided by the department. Furthermore, it was also noted that the accounting officers indicated their claims are not submitted within 30 days as required instruction.”
Findings by the AG also shows that a good number of Ministries and agencies are not able to submit their reports for auditing to the AG’s office.
Kandjeke also gave a qualified opinion on the accounts presented by the Department of Works and Transport. The department failed to carry out bank reconciliation and did not provide income and expenditure statements which were required by treasury.
Among the AG’s findings was that the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) also failed to provide documentary evidence for more than N$700 000 spent on S&T allowances.
Commenting on the NBC’s financials Kandjeke said “There is a possible misuse of staff loan accounting system together with weak control measures in the company that could have led to a loss of nearly N$ 2million being incurred by NBC. The audit testing on selected travel expenses incurred for the year under review revealed that supporting documentation to the amount of N$778 201 could not be presented’’ he said.
He added that, “The possibility of fraud being committed through the non-provision of appropriate valid supporting documentation cannot be excluded. This if occurring will result in financial loses being incurred by the corporation.”
The AG also noted that the national broadcaster also saw its loans granted to staff growing from N$146 460 in 2009 to N$1, 781 940 in 2010.
“I am unable to express an opinion on the financial statements of the Corporation for the financial year ended due to all unavailable documents that proves all money flowing in and out of the company,” said kenjeke.
Kandjeke also found the asset register of NBC to be incomplete in the period under review.
Among the findings Kanjeke noted that the national broadcaster failed to provide N$ 3 098 268 in Pay As You Earn (PAYE) as the receipts could not be verified.
The report indicated that during the review and verification procedures performed on the ageing analysis of trade receivables auditors noted that a large portion of trade receivables are older than 120 days. Closer investigation and enquiry with finance department staff members indicated that these long outstanding trade receivables originate from barter agreements entered into control and that the accounting thereof is not managed well.
“The review of the trade debtor’s age analysis highlighted the balance of a debtor with a balance of N$5 166 603 in 120 days of which the balance increased to N$7 228 million in 2010. This non recovery of a trade debtor impacts severely on the cash flow situation of the corporation” Kandjeke said.
Kandjeke said the under expenditure of the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement is reflected in the division of the Office of the Minister, Administration, Resettlement, Geomantic Planning and Research, Planning, Research, Training and Information Systems as well as Information Technology. His comments stated that the Administration division did not take al trips that were supposed to be undertaken.
“The availability of iPads to strategic personnel also contributed to an under expenditure of materials and supplies”. He added that, the under expenditure on the construction and renovation of the Ministry’s offices, alterations to the existing ministerial headquarters in Windhoek, construction of the ministerial regional office in Opuwo, construction of the ministerial regional office in Rundu and renovations to the deeds office and office of the surveyor general in Windhoek, were because the contract with the contractors was signed late” Kandjeke said.
Meanwhile, the MoYNSSC recorded under expenditure of N$13 457 962.44 while spending over N$16 million on S&T. In giving a qualified audit to the Ministry, the AG expressed concern over the accounting officer’s inability to submit the statements within the prescribed timeframe.
The MoF recorded under expenditure of over N$91 million over the financial year under review, which the AG regarded as ‘unacceptable’ as it was above the 2% threshold. The same ministry also spent over N$19 million on travel and subsistence expenses in that period. The Ministry received an unqualified audit opinion.