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AG reveals gov’t rot

…as M3billion goes missing

Mohloai Mpesi

The Auditor General has revealed the rot of government in regard to the use of finances for the year ended 2019/20.  

Addressing the media on Tuesday, Acting Auditor General Monica Besetsa pointed to recklessness in the use of public funds by the public servants in impunity to the point whereby almost a seventh of that fiscal year’s national budget could not be accounted for.

The financial year ended March 31, 2020 was budgeted for about M 20.1 billion of which about inter alia over M3billion could not be accounted for, according to Besetsa’s records.

According to her, government had about 387 bank accounts with the sum of M8.7billion in 2019 while in 2020 the accounts had miraculously decreased to 374 with a whopping M5.311billion resulting in an unexplained difference of M3.474billion.

“The Accountant General’s report indicates that on April 1, 2019 the government had the sum of M6, 799 billion. Some monies came in a form of taxes and also from investors that amounted to M20billion. Payments accruing to M18billion were made with adjustments amounting to M48 million, at the end of the year the government remained with M8.7billion.

“We recognised that the remaining money was M5.311billion as opposed to the M8.7billion. Note 15 of the financial statements shows that government had 374 accounts totaling M5.311billion as at 31 March 2020 however, the Consolidated Statement of cash receipts and payments reflect that government had cash of M8.724billion resulting into unexplained difference of M3.474billion,” Besetsa said.

“The government of Lesotho had 374 bank accounts with a total amount of M5.311 billion as at March 31, 2020 whereas at March 2019, there were 387 accounts totaling M6.328billion resulting into a cash decrease of M1.017billion and a decreased by 13 accounts. However, the statement of consolidated receipts and payments reflect a cash increase of M1. 877billion.

“Reports from the bank reveal that there were 69 accounts opened in that year while 40 bank accounts were closed and our expectation is that there are 416 operating bank accounts but it is not like that, meaning there are 54 bank accounts that we don’t know what is happening with them,” she said.

“We also realised that there were 25 bank accounts opened but they do not appear as active accounts on bank certificates. We also discovered that there are 28 accounts that have M198million that appear on bank certificates, but on the list of accounts opened in that year, these accounts do not appear. We also found 64 accounts with the money amounting to M40million. At Central Bank of Lesotho there are 10 accounts holding the sum of M5.3million, one account at Nedbank with M85 000, 49 accounts at Standard Lesotho Bank with the sum of M41million, two accounts at First National Bank with M57 000 and Lesotho Post Bank with M708 000.

She continued that they found evidence of 26 accounts that had M37million that were indeed closed and the money was transferred to the Central Bank of Lesotho, while they don’t know what happened to about 12 accounts which had M7million…

“We did not find any report from Standard Lesotho Bank. This caused a problem and a sense of distrust in the banks. Accountant General ought to have had registrar to register all the accounts so as to monitor all the accounts. We failed to receive the side of Account General to explain what happened to the missing accounts so we could not draw a conclusion on the missing accounts.

“The other issue is dividends that declined from M322million in 2018/19 to M171million in 2019/20. Only three institutions paid their dividends and that is; Central Bank of Lesotho which paid 100% of M142, 177, 000 in 2019/20 and M84, 396, 000, Standard Lesotho Bank which paid 9.60% and the sum of 24, 125, 000 in 2019, 20 and Maluti Mountain Brewery which paid M4, 972, 245 where Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) with the total amount of M171, 274, 245 of dividends,” she said.

She further indicated that two former employees at the Ministry of Health resigned from their positions to seek other jobs but were paid their salaries for two years even when they were no longer working there.

“There were two employees at the Ministry of Health who got paid for two years after resigning from their posts and the money they were paid totals to M850 000 and they have not returned the money,” she said.

She continued that in March 2020, ten parastatals owed the government about M984million inclusive of LNDC, Wasco, Telecom and LEC.

“There was a repayment of M18million during the course of the year which was paid by three companies while the remaining seven did not bother. The government had a debt of M19billion in March 2020; external debt of M16.6billion and domestic debts of 3.6billion.    

“We realised that the debt accumulated from the previous year’s debt of M15billion. We realised that the ministries which were helped with these debts were not bothering to make reconciliation with Public Debt Department. Public Debt revealed that the total of debt that year was M703million while the ministries reveal M773million,” she said.  

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