SOME 90 Solwezi District Council officers will not be looking forward to next month’s salary after a parliamentary watchdog called for immediate deductions to recover K12.7 million in unretired imprest going back to last December.
After Monday’s session when they expressed their displeasure at the financial goings-on at the Chinsali council, members of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee were similarly unimpressed with what they got to learn when the Solwezi Town Clerk Venture Kafula and his team appeared before them today.
They observed that failure by the council to get workers to account for imprest amounting to K12,270,215.00 since December 2016, amounted to a breach of Local Authorities Financial Regulation No.119, with Committee chairperson Maxwell Kabanda (MMD, Serenje) directing Bishop Kafula to make sure the process to set things right was begun right away.solwezi council
“We can’t continue with this trend of people comfortably working without retiring such huge imprest. Immediate action should be taken and as a committee, we direct you (Bishop Kafula) to recover this money by deducting from the erring officers’ salaries,” Mr Kabanda said.
United Party for National Development (UPND) Luampa MP Makozo Chikote said failure by councils to ensure public resources were put to good use portrayed a negative impression that Government was not doing its work of service delivery to citizens.
The directive was based on the findings recorded in the Auditor General’s Report on the review of operations on local authorities for the financial years ended December 31, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The committee also heard that a total of 508 payment vouchers amounting to K15, 097,411.00 made during the period under review were not availed for audit.
This was contrary to the Local Authorities’ Financial Regulations No 98 (1), which required that all payments vouchers , with supporting documents, and any other forms which support a charge entered into the accounts, shall be carefully filled, secured and be readily available for audit.
Bishop Kafula told the Committee that the council had already taken steps to recover some of the money from erring officers but struggled to explain how officers got approvals to receive ‘fresh’ imprest before they had cleared previous excess.
Bishop Kafula said payslips were readily available for verification and that the council would ensure no officers would be issued fresh imprest before retiring the previous payments.
Evans Chibanda (PF, Mufulira) said it was irresponsible of the council management to allow erring officers to get away with breaching financial regulations.
Mr Chibanda said many financial irregularities among councils had led to many of them failing to provide adequate services to rate-payers.
Bishop Kafula also apologised for the missing payment vouchers, but explained that many of them had been misplace but had now been traced and were available for verification.
He said the council had secured a strong room for safe-keeping of financial documents with only one officer managing the room.
He said despite a number of challenges, the council was making headway in its efforts spur economic development for the capital town of North Western Province and assured the committee that in the coming years, the status of Solwezi would improve notably.