THE Mines and Mining Development ministry failed to submit records over its operations to the Auditor-General (AG)’s Office for the 2021 period.
“Mines and Mining Development ministry did not submit for audit the annual performance reports for the year ended December 31, 2021. I was, therefore, unable to assess the ministry’s achievement of the targets set in the strategic plan and its contribution to the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1),” AG Mildred Chiri said, in the recently released 2021 OAG appropriation accounts report.
The ministry is tasked with creating a US$12 billion industry, driven by increased mineral exports, by the end of 2023.
The failure to submit itself for audit over its 2021 operations is despite Treasury allocating nearly $1,4 billion towards the ministry for last year’s budget.
“I was also not availed with minutes of meetings held during the period by management on programmes being implemented. In the absence of periodic progress and annual reports it would be difficult to monitor and evaluate the ministry’s planned goals and objectives set in the strategic plan,” Chiri said.
“If deliberations in the management meetings are not documented, planned actions and follow-ups cannot be done effectively without minutes of management meetings.”
For 2021, budget allocations were designated towards increased exploration, expansion of existing mining projects, resuscitation of closed mines, opening of new mines and mineral beneficiation and value addition.
One of the key issues raised by Chiri concerned the Mines and Mining Development Fund that was established to: “support and sustain the operations of the computerised mining titles system, the development of the mining industry through provision of services for the growth of the sector and the necessary capacity for the sustainable management of the computerised mining titles system including other professional and technical services by the Mines and Mining Development ministry.”
According to Chiri, the fund lacked breakdown or ledgers to support the expenditure figures disclosed in the financial statements, amounting to $7 371 128 and $24 431 251 for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively.
“The expenditure line items in the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) were different from the line items on the financial statements,” Chiri said.
“Furthermore, notes to the financial statements for 2019 were not provided. I could not, therefore, verify the accuracy and completeness of these amounts in the absence of supporting documents.”
She said the biggest risk was expenditure figures could be misstated.
In response, the ministry said the Mines and Mining Development Fund budgets for the year 2019 and 2020 were in the PFMS.
“The expenditure was being done through the system and as such, the general ledgers are in the system. The ledgers can be viewed under the cost centre for the Mines and Mining Development Fund,” the ministry said.
Chiri said the ministry should report on progress made on planned targets. – (Newsday)