Parliament wants farming inputs fraudsters named

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THE Public Accounts Parliamentary Portfolio Committee yesterday recommended that seed houses, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and officials responsible for Operation Maguta should release the names of people who benefited from farming inputs and equipment distributed under several government programmes.

VENERANDA LANGA
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER

The committee, chaired by Mufakose MP Paurina Mpariwa (MDC-T), said this in the National Assembly while presenting its first report on the examination of appropriation accounts for the Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development ministry, which revealed gross abuse of public funds, government assets and farm implements after an audit of the ministry was done by the Auditor-General (AG)’s Office in 2011.

Zanu PF heavyweights were beneficiaries of the inputs and mechanisation schemes and none of them has reportedly paid back.

“The audit observed that since 2009, the ministry had an outstanding debt of $3 700 000 from 2008 related to the supply of inputs by some seed houses whose beneficiaries were not disclosed to auditors for examination to ascertain whether the inputs were distributed to targeted farmers,” said Mpariwa.

“Without knowing those who benefited from the inputs, it will be very difficult to rule out possibilities of abuse of public funds and, as such, the fact of the matter should be investigated by the ministry and be fully accounted for public funds.”

The committee report also revealed that the ministry incurred excess expenditure of $14 564 569 across 58 line items, adding there was a danger that if such excesses continued there would be overdrafts on the Sub-Paymaster-General Account and bank charges.

“The audit observed unreliable accounting systems as evidenced by the existence of three different expenditure figures which the ministry failed to reconcile.

“The ministry for the second year running failed to perform monthly payroll reconciliations, that is, comparing pay sheets to ministry records and as a result the AG could not ascertain correctness of the wage bill and consequently government might be paying salaries to ghost workers unknowingly amounting to
$3 070 to eleven employees,” the report said.

Among other malpractices by the ministry were failure by the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority to disclose an outstanding loan of $13 854 245 obtained from Iran in 2010 and failure to account for the ministry’s assets as well as serious flouting of tender procedures.

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