Agriculture ministry overshoots budget

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry exceeded its budget of N$2.96 billion by N$1.59 million for the financial year ended 31 March 2016, which is unauthorised in terms of Section 6 of the State Finance Act of 1991.

This information is contained in the Auditor General Junias Kandjeke’s financial report for the ministry for the year ended 31 March 2016 tabled in the National Assembly last week.

Kandjeke found that four main divisions of the ministry exceeded their budgets by a total amount of N$9.75 million, which is unauthorised in terms of Section 6 of the State Finance Act.

Further, he observed that although treasury approval was obtained to use certain expected savings to defray expenditure by way of virements during the year, 18 operational subdivisions exceeded budgets by N$22.18 million while the development budget was exceeded by N$459.82 million, which is unauthorised in terms of Section 6 of the State Finance Act.

Kandjeke strongly recommended that the accounting officer closely monitor and review the financial position of the ministry on a continuous basis to enable better financial control and take appropriate action timeously to avoid unauthorised expenditure.

In his response, the accounting officer, Percy Misika indicated that the unauthorised expenditure was caused by the implementation of the remoteness and hardship allowance.

On the development budget, he explained that the unauthorised expenditure was caused by the reallocated amount to the Nekartal massive dam project during the mid-term budget review.

Kandjeke said the accounting officer also reported 10 cases of outstanding subsistence advances amounting to N$265 539.86 as at 31 March 2016, while the debit balance list is reflecting 11 cases, amounting to N$319 659.86. However, the suspense account reflects a balance of N$40 320.24, as at 31 March 2016, which leaves an unexplained difference of N$279 339.62.

He urged the accounting office to closely monitor the subsistence and travelling allowance account and ensure that reconciliations are carried out on a regular basis to avoid differences in future and that treasury authorisation should be adhered to.

The Auditor General also found the ministry in the wrong because the accounting officer reported bursaries and study assistance amounting to N$5.14 million, however the supporting documents for the actual expenditure could not be provided for audit purposes.

He recommended that the accounting officer should ensure supporting documents are submitted for routine audit purposes.

Kandjeke also found that more than 50 percent overtime selected claims during the audit exceeded three and 10 hours per day or week without the Ministry of Labour authorization, as prescribed by Section 17 (1) of the Labour Act No. 11 of 2007.

Kandjeke detected that leave taken were not recorded on the leave record card, while other leave forms were not approved and others were not filed.

The last period of leave taken is not noted and the approval of leave is not done by the accounting officer or his delegate and that, Kandjeke says, poses a very high risk of non-compliance to the Public Service Staff Rule D.1.
“More than 50 percent attendance registers were not attached to the overtime selected samples. There is a very high risk in the fact that overtime hours not worked might be claimed,” he said.

Equally, he noted that overtime claim forms are completed incorrectly resulting in over- or under-payment due to lack of knowledge.

He advised the accounting officer to adhere to Section 17 (1) of the Labour Act of 2007 by putting control measures in place to ensure authorisation is obtained before overtime is worked.

He also called on the accounting officer to ensure that the respective employees are provided with the necessary training.

In his response, the accounting officer indicated that the recommendation is noted with seriousness and some internal measures have already been put in place.

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