The Auditor General’s Office in its audit of government payroll for the financial years ended 31st December 2017 to 2021 has revealed accounting related irregularities in amounts totaling over 2.6 billion kwacha.
Auditor General Dick Sichembe disclosed that over nine thousand, eight hundred (9,800) ghost workers from nineteen (19) government ministries were paid 7.7 million Kwacha between 2017 and 2021.
“The institutions had not yet accounted for the officers in that they were not known,” Mr Sichembe reviewed
Speaking at a media briefing in Lusaka today, Mr Sichembe highlighted that three (3) ministries had 87 people who diverted salaries amounting to 10 million kwacha into their personal accounts or accounts for people who are not civil servants.
Mr Sichembe added that 25 officers from 4 institutions irregularly drew double salaries in amounts totaling to K967,411.
The Auditor General further added that 22,485 officers in 20 institutions were misplaced and paid salaries amounting to over 944 million kwacha.
“Meaning that an officer is drawing a salary from a pay point where they are not providing a service,” The Auditor General added
Dr Sichembe cited that 18 government institutions had recruited over 13 thousand people without treasury authority while the Ministry of Education introduced 299 teachers on the payroll who received salaries in amounts totaling over 3 million kwacha without authority from the Teaching Service Commission.
“Ministry of Education also upgraded the salary scale of 539 teachers without authority from the Teaching Service Commission costing the government 2.5 million kwacha,” Mr Sichembe said
Mr Sichembe noted that following a Presidential directive, the office of the Auditor General will be transformed into a more robust and effective institution, which is a supreme institution that ensures the promotion of transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.
“We will call or bring to account those who are entrusted in managing the financial resources of the country,” Mr Sichembe said
The Auditor General alluded that their institution will work closely with the Controlling Officer and other institutions to ensure that the issues which the President has raised, which is misappropriation of funds, are addressed.
“That will be our thrust, as we intend to have meetings with all the Controlling Officers so that we charge the way forward on how to address these challenges that we have had,” he said
He further noted that their institution’s concentration and focus will be on the performance ordered, as this is value for money, thus a performance audit of value for money will be conducted to see whether the costs that have been incurred under various programmes reflect the value for money.
“As you are aware the country has gone into transformation in terms of new infrastructure, we therefore need to be cost conscious as a people, because of the challenges that we are facing,” he noted
Mr Sichembe alluded that, as the Auditor General’s office, they will ensure that they follow each and every kwacha, wherever the funds will be allocated as this will help to ensure that the funds have been applied for the intended purpose and for the benefit of the country.
“Those that will be found wanting, will surely be exposed, as that is our thrust and my colleagues at the office, they all understand our vision which is to ensure that we hold professionalism and we have no compromise on integrity, that is how we are going to address these issues,” Mr Sichembe stated
And Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee Chairperson, Warren Mwambazi has urged Law Enforcement Agencies to follow up on the recommendations and cases raised by the Auditor General’s office.
“And those involved should be brought to book,” Mr Mwambazi stated