The Public Accounts Committee has rapped ministries for a lackadaisical approach to revenue collection, as figures show that at least P461 million was owed in arrears, with zero recoveries in 2015-2016.
The figures are contained in the committee’s latest report tabled recently before Parliament.
According to the PAC’s report, revenue arrears owed to ministries were pegged at P458.1 million in 2013-2014 with P4.2 million collections and P1.5 million abandoned. The arrears dipped marginally to P457.6 million in 2014-2015 with P3.8 million in recoveries and P527,245 written off.
The committee, which examines public accounts annually, noted that the arrears’ position appeared to stem from a paradigm within ministries.
“It was observed that ministries do not perform well in collecting of revenue. Minimal effort is applied by ministries when it comes to collecting these debts, which results in requests for abandonment in many instances,” the PAC report reads.
The committee noted that ‘quite a bit’ of the arrears reported were due to outstanding telephone bills by civil servants “which ideally were not supposed to be included in the report on ministerial revenue arrears”.
“The committee recommends that ministries should put more effort in collecting arrears of
Meanwhile, the PAC noted that ‘serious’ lack of record management continues to plague government, hampering the committee’s efforts to properly assess public finances.
According to the committee, some ministries fail to maintain proper databases for their employees’ information, “which results in cases not being resolved because former employees cannot be traced”.
“Most of the cases which are outstanding are as a result of lack of evidence,” the report reads.
“PAC examinations are heavily evidence-based and where evidence could not be located, cases remain candidates of PAC memorandum of progress report.”
The PAC said it had noted that ministries relax throughout the year, then scramble when the committee’s hearings approach, often leading to poorly prepared records.
The PAC sittings this year begin with an extraordinary hearing set for Wednesday to assess the National Petroleum Fund where hundreds of millions of pula are the subject of suspected fraudulent activity.
The committee in earnest will hold its regular hearings in May.