An internal audit report has faulted the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) for failing to comply with the public procurement requirements, policies and procedures as well as internal control processes in some of its operations.
According to the report, which The Nation has seen, the parastatal, charged with procuring maize and managing the strategic grain reserves, also lost weighbridge revenue estimated at K316 000 due to lack of compliance with the control procedures.
The report, signed by R.S Nchingula, was submitted to the 32nd meeting of the Finance, Audit and Compliance sub-committee of the NFRA Board on August 16 2016.
Primarily, the audit focused on NFRA’s procurement and stores management and weighbridge revenue for Limbe Depot for the financial year ending June 30 2016 to, among others, obtain assurance that the procedures put in place were adhered to.
But in their findings, the auditors discovered, among others, non-compliance with the Public Procurement Act, lack of prequalification of suppliers, lack of filing of procurement documentation and delay in recruiting a procurement officer.
The report shows that NFRA had no procurement plans for the financial year 2015/16 as required by the Public Procurement Act; hence, all procurements were being done based on requisitions from users.
Reads the report in part: “It was noted that certain procured items during the period under audit lacked internal procurement committee [IPC] minutes which approved the procurement… This is contrary to Section 9 of the Procurement Act.”
The auditors observed that in the absence of IPC minutes, the procured items, even if properly approved, could be technically considered as misprocured by the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) thereby attracting punitive action.
Further, the report said the agency did not submit quarterly procurement reports to ODPP as required by the Act. The reports are supposed to be submitted, at most, 30 days after the quarter.
According to the report, the agency does not have a list of prequalified suppliers to deliver and offer services when required to avoid creating room for procuring substandard items from non-reputable suppliers and increasing chances for fraud and corruption.
Further, the auditors discovered that between October 1 2015 and April 15 2016 the agency incurred financial loss after weighbridge revenue amounting to K316 000 could not be accounted for.
On this, the audit revealed all transactions—from weighing vehicles to banking of revenue—during the period were handled single-handedly by an officer, a development that made the officer answerable for the unaccounted for revenue.
But when contacted yesterday, NFRA chief executive officer NasunukuSaukira declined to comment on the report, saying the issues were internal.
NFRA board chairperson the Reverend Alex Maulana could not be reached when contacted on his mobile phone yesterday.
Two years ago, the agency was also faulted for flouting procedures when management awarded maize supply contracts worth K3 billion to 293 companies without consulting the board as per set procedure.