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Ministries illicitly paid P26 million to retired officers

Publishing Date : 10 April, 2018

Author : ALFRED MASOKOLA

Between 2014 and 2016, government made unlawful payments of up to P26 million to retired officers, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report for the financial year ended March 2016 has revealed.


The report, which was tabled by its chairperson, Abram Kesupile before parliament a fortnight ago indicates that some ministries continue to fail to notify the Accountant General on time to stop salary payments where officers had retired. “The Committee observed with concern that in some instances former employees continue to be paid for several months before their salaries are terminated,” reads the report.


The Ministry of Education and Skills Development, which has since been split into two (Ministry of Basic Education and Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology), is said to be leading the pack as it made more wrongful payments than other ministries. Further, the ministries are said to be failing to recover the funds as it is expected of them. The ministry of Health (and Wellness) as well as the Ministry of Agriculture (now Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security) were revealed to be tailing the education Ministry.


The report indicates that in the financial year 2015/2016, the total outstanding figure was P15 1616 192 and only P 5 707 205 (37 percent) was recovered. Out of this figure Ministry of Education accounted for P8 355 878 (54 percent) and had recovered only P3 530 578 (42 percent). Ministry of Health accounted for P3 775 316 (24 percent) and had recovered P549 741 (15 percent). Ministry of Agriculture accounted for P1 211 260 (8 percent) and had recovered P398 415 (33 percent).


The Committee recommended that action must be taken against officers who neglect their duties and fail to take proper proper action to inform the Accountant General to stop payments where employees are no longer in service. The committee also noted that the trend in which ex-employees continued to receive payments was growing at an alarming rate.  The figure grew from P2.2 million in during the 2013/2014 financial year, and then rose to P8.4 million during the 2014/15 financial year before skyrocketing to P15.6 million during the 2015/16 financial year, which was the last to be interrogated by the committee.


In 2014 it was revealed that government had indentified 115 ghost employees, something which then Director of Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) , Carter Morupisi attributed to the fact that the DPSM was separate from the government payroll therefore, it took time for them to notice the mishap.


The DPSM Director, Ruth Maphorisa told the PAC in 2016 that in efforts to defeat the trend, they had effected the use of the Oracle system which would enable better management of the government establishment of one employee one post. The Oracle system comes with an effective tool to control and monitor the establishment as it allows only one employee to occupy one post, and ultimately will not pay anyone who is not attached to an established post.


The committee has also registered a concern regarding the ministries’ failure to perform well in collecting arrears of revenue. The report indicates that ministries are applying minimal effort when it comes to collecting debts, which results in requests for abandonment in many instances.

According to the report, for the financial year 2015/16 government was owed P460 million, which remained uncollected. The two previous financial years, government was owed P457 million and P458 million for 2014/15 and 2013/14 years respectively.


GOVERNMENT ASSETS INSURANCE

The PAC raised concern regarding non-insuring of Government’s assets. It indicated that the value of Government assets could not be easily established as they are no assets registers. “Ministry of Finance and Economic Development through the department of the Accountant General had indicated that they have started compiling an asset register, but it is still at an initial stage to be used,” said the report. “Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing had indicated that they had taken an initiative to develop an assets register for the buildings component.” The committee recommends that the two processes should be fast tracked.

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