Ministry fails to follow up on $400k weighbridges

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MDC T members of parliament Jessie Majome,Thokozani Khupe and Paurina Mpariwa follow proceedings during President Robert Mugabe's address in parliament

A REPORT by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts has revealed that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce failed to follow up on $496 340 worth of outstanding orders of weighbridges after a company they contracted failed to deliver.

By VENERANDA LANGA

Chairperson of the committee Paurina Mpariwa on Tuesday presented the first report of the Public Accounts Committee on the finding by the Auditor-General on the 2014 and 2015 appropriation accounts for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and fund accounts. The committee expressed concern over poor management of funds at the ministry.

The report revealed that each year Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has raised concern over delays by ministry officials to follow up on outstanding orders. Applied Weighing Scales failed to meet delivery, installation and commission dates of four weighbridges in Harare, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo.

“The weighbridges were at a total cost of $496 340, and the work was supposed to have been completed by September 30 2014, but as at September 14, 2015 the weighbridges had not been delivered despite the fact that a deposit of $312 694 was paid in March 2013,” the committee said.

“The committee recommends that disciplinary action be instituted against officials who handled the transaction by December, 31, 2016. It also recommends that the ministry should institute criminal proceedings against the Applied Weighing Scale Company for fleecing government resources by December 31, 2016.”

Mpariwa said when the ministry appeared before the committee this year to give oral evidence on the issue, they admitted with regret that a considerable amount was paid to the contractor without a bank guarantee and that no deliveries were made to date.

“Efforts to follow up on the deliveries with the contractor were fruitless, and the ministry did not satisfactorily explain why public funds of such magnitude were committed without adequate security. The ministry indicated that it handed over the issue to the Attorney-General’s civil division for legal action in order to recover the deposit with interest thereof,” read the report.

The committee said they noted with concern that no due diligence was done in the procurement process hence a case of potential loss of public funds.

Seconder of the motion Rueben Marumahoko (Hurungwe North) said despite the AG releasing reports that show gross maladministration of funds by ministries, no action was taken on ministers and ministry secretaries whose ministry accounts would have been disqualified by the AG.