Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
THE country could be losing millions of dollars through misuse of retained funds by various Government departments such as the police and the Registrar General’s Office, Parliament’s Budget office has said.
The office has recommended that the Government should revert to the old system where all revenue is deposited into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The Budget office said Government could have realised up to $1 billion in fines and user charges last year alone but these did not reach the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“Zimbabwe could be losing millions of dollars through misuse of retained funds by various Government departments who are retaining 100 percent of the funds they are collecting.
The Auditor General has raised a red flag over lack of transparency and accountability with regards to most of these statutory and retention funds,” said the office in its June analysis of the Retention Fund.
It said a 2013 Supreme Court ruling in a case involving the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), delivered by the Chief Justice who was then the Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba with Justice Vernanda Ziyambi and Justice Yunus Omerjee concurring, affirmed that in terms of the constitution such funds should be transferred to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“It is reported that the combined revenues collected by government institutions or departments outside the budget could have well reached over $1 billion in 2016 had they been properly and accurately accounted for. This includes revenues from fines and user charges collected by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zinara, Environmental Management Agency, Judicial Services Commission and the Registrar General’s Office, among many other Government agencies,” the budget office said.
It said in January this year, Treasury directed all Government departments who collect statutory funds or retain other funds to open accounts with the Central Bank to enhance transparency and accountability, failure of which they threatened to revoke the retention authority.
The budget office said all concerned departments have complied with the directive, but it should be noted that this has not addressed the issue of abuse of funds and the constitutional requirements for all monies to go into the Consolidated Revenue fund.
It said since June last year, Treasury stopped the creation of additional funds after noting a suspicious increase in applications for retention authority by line Ministries and Departments.
“The increase in cases of abuse of public funds justify calls for Treasury to be the only department entrusted with the responsibility to manage public resources. It has also been noted that a lot of money is spent on non-essential goods and services at the expense of critical issues,” it said.
“This is the highest level of disservice to the citizens and taxpayers when privileged departments splash on luxuries like cars while critical service provision like health delivery are underfunded to the extent of failing to provide basic painkillers. It defeats the whole purpose and is illogical for the same institutions with retention funds to then look up to Treasury for financial support especially for salaries. Universities are a clear case in point,” it said.
It also said Section 32 of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) Act specifies that the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) is supposed to retain 40 percent of revenue, while allocating 30 percent to the NPA, 20 percent to the AG’s Office and 10 percent to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
“There are reports that the JSC is still retaining 80 percent and disbursing 20 percent in contravention of the Act. Before the NPA Act came into force in January 2015, the JSC retained 80 percent of the funds while 20 percent was disbursed to the AG’s Office,” it said. — @AuxiliaK