Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
PARLIAMENT’s Public Accounts Committee has noted that Bulawayo City Council’s books are in shambles, raising the risk of embezzlement of funds and corruption.
The Committee revealed this in a report presented in Parliament on Tuesday after examining BCC’s accounts, the first ever accounts of a local authority to be looked into by the Committee.
The committee’s chairperson, Ms Paurina Mpariwa told Parliament that the Public Accounts Committee had noted that Bulawayo City Council does not have an asset register hence it was difficult to establish what the municipality was getting from rentals.
The committee said the absence of an asset register also makes it difficult to establish what type of buildings the city has and what income was being derived from such properties.
Ms Mpariwa said the committee concluded that there is a culture of non-performance embedded in the local authority since there are no consequences for non-performing.
“Of great concern to the Committee was the huge backlog by Council with regards to the production of financial statements for audit. In 2014, the Auditor General was auditing the 2010 and 2011 Bulawayo City Council accounts. By all accounting standards, reporting on these accounts will not be of much value,” she said.
Ms Mpariwa said the committee was concerned about the extent of poor record keeping exhibited by the local authority.
“Given that they were behind in auditing their books, there was therefore a greater need for proper record keeping to ensure that such documents are in place whenever they are required for audit purposes,” said Ms Mpariwa.
She said auditors were not provided with expenditure supporting documents for repairs and maintenance and general expenses amounting to $151 504 and $179 396 respectively.
“Under such an environment, funds could be misappropriated without the system detecting. Council officials admitted that there was a problem of poor records keeping and as a result, some records were lost,” said Ms Mpariwa.
She said the committee had also noted that some employees did not have the right qualifications for the posts they were holding.
It was also observed that the local authourity was not pursuing criminal matters following theft and fraud by its employees, a development MPs said would encourage criminal activities within the local authourity.
The committee chairperson said an audit observed that the cash account on the general ledger was not being reconciled to the physical cash in the vault and this resulted in a variance of about $1,2 million between the general ledger and physical cash balance.
“The revenue hall bank statement, which should have been the only control around the physical cash receipts and reconciliation process, was not updated timeously. On further inquiry, management updated the revenue hall bank statement to a balance of $39,” she told Parliament.
“Audit is also not taken seriously by the local authority since again there are no consequences for issues raised in audits or even missing deadlines for submission of accounts for audits. The Committee recommends that the council should be proactive in its day-to-day administration of council funds to curb recurrences of observations in future.”
Ms Mpariwa said the production of accounts within a stipulated time frame and the quality of audits should be part of the performance contract for the council’s Finance Director.
“Failure in that regard, the employment contract should be revisited,” she said.