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The Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Ministry has an unreliable accounting system and had three different expenditure figures between 2010 and 2011, the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee said yesterday.

In a report presented by chairperson and Mufakose representative Ms Paurina Mpariwa (MDC-T), the committee said the existence of different figures and failure to reconcile them could have resulted in Government paying for services not rendered and undelivered goods.

“For the second year in succession, the audit (by the Auditor-General) observed unreliable accounting systems as evidenced by the existence of three different expenditure figures which the ministry failed to reconcile,” said Ms Mpariwa.

“In 2001, the appropriation account reflected a total expenditure of US$154 070 999, the sub paymaster general account had a total of US$142 465 122, while the Public Finance Management System had a total of US$146 521 040.

“In the previous year in 2010, the appropriation account reflected an amount of US$215 511 694, the PFMS had a figure of US$112 730 411, while the sub paymaster bank statement showed an amount of US$205 876 312.

“Given such circumstances, the Auditor-General could not ascertain the correctness of the expenditure figures for the 2010 and 2011 financial periods. There is, therefore, a possibility that the ministry’s total expenditure might include fraudulently processed vouchers and as a result, Government might be paying for services not rendered or goods not delivered to the ministry.”

The committee said Agriculture Secretary, Mr Ringson Chitsiko, attributed the discrepancies to continuous breakdowns of the PFMS between 2009 and 2012, but said the problems had been addressed and reconciliations were now being done monthly.

“The committee, however, noted with great concern that contrary to these claims by the ministry, the 2012 accounts were qualified on the same grounds and there was no evidence that reconciliations were being done on a monthly basis,” said Ms Mpariwa.

“By presenting falsehoods, the ministry was not taking the committee and the Auditor-General seriously. It is now very difficult to understand whether there is a real challenge or it could be just a matter of attitude on the part of the ministry.”

Ms Mpariwa said the committee recommended that clear controls be put in place to prevent variances and that monthly reconciliations between bank statements and PFMS balances be religiously carried out.

Source : The Herald