The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has branded the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) as a cash cow for public officials, used to launder and siphon money with impunity.
PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani said in an interview that billions of money have been lost at the institution with nobody showing willingness to follow up or account for the lost money.
Yesterday, PAC was meeting officials from Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Water Development over the 2014/15 Auditor General’s report.
Menyani said Admarc, through the ministry, is on record to have failed to account for K9.3 billion on personnel emoluments and reasons for the failure to account for the money were not satisfactory to the committee.
Said Menyani: “You find that they even fail to account for personal emoluments at K9.3 billion. They offer no satisfactory explanation to the committee. Admarc is losing billions of kwacha but nobody wants to do a functional review of the institution and put this to an end.”
He further said even from the qualified audit report the ministry has not accounted for the money in question and other social issues such as the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) which he also said is used to launder money.
Menyani added: “In this case, Cashgate is continuing, but with a new twist. If we are losing billions as recent as 2015, how can you say things are working?”
He said the committee has planned to engage Secretary to the Treasury, Chief Secretary to government and Accountant General to decide what type of investigation to take on Admarc.
During the interaction, controlling officer for the ministry Bright Kumwembe told the members that plans are underway to have a functional review for Admarc to clarify to the public on the duties of the institution.
He said people have forgotten that Admarc acts both as a social and business entity and as such, the business part of it is usually forgotten.
Apart from quizzing them on Admarc, the ministry was asked to explain unaccounted funds at the ministry’s headquarters, some of which they said have been recovered and others are yet to be reconciled and recorded in the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis).
There was a query for the ministry as to why there were differences in materials presented to the auditors and those in Ifmis amounting to K18.6 billion, material variances in funding figures of K22 billion, payments without supporting documents at K20.3 billion, misallocation of expenditure at K3.5 billion and K4.5 million unaccounted Fisp proceeds, among others.
In response, Kumwembe acknowledged what the auditors found but said they engaged the accountant general on the possibility of capturing the expenses to normalise the anomaly though opinion on the financial statements was already given.
He said they are yet to meet the Auditor General to map the way forward but promised that in the 2015/16 year such anomalies will not be found. n