Saturday, May 15, 2021

Auditor General still to submit its report – Dr Letsholathebe

The Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science & Technology, Douglas Letsholathebe has said he will act on the Reports of the Auditor General and that of the Ombudsman once he has received both the reports.The Ombudsman and the Auditor General have each investigated allegations of wrongdoing surrounding IAS (International aviation Solutions).The aviation school had admitted students that were financed by Government through the Ministry of Higher education.

Dr Letsholathe said in an interview that so far he has received only the Report of the Ombudsman. The Auditor General is yet to submit is own findings, he said. “The Auditor General has also conducted investigations on the IAS but the report has not yet been submitted to the ministry as yet,” said the minister. Which is surprising given that the Auditor General completed its investigations long before the Ombudsman even started.“

Once the Auditor General’s report has been submitted, the ministry would be able to study both the two reports in order to come up with decisions on the way forward,” he continued. Curiously, it was the ministry that sought the report and specifically commissioned Auditor General to undertake an investigation. For the Auditor General not to have lodged the report with the client could be a huge shortfall. The investigations happened after among other things, IAS had lodged a request to be paid P18 million that the flying school had said was owed them by the ministry.

Both reports seen by Sunday Standard have reached damning conclusions against the political leadership of the ministry. At the time the minister was Unity Dow. The Auditor General’s report took issue with the lifting of rules when it came to handling the IAS matter and said as a result government had been lost. IAS had appealed to the minister on the handling of their payment by the ministry.

“It was observed that some senior management perpetuated unethical practices by overriding established control procedures, relating to the subject matter mentioned above,” said the report in part.

The “subject matter mentioned above” related to IAS being paid even before there was proof on the part of school that5 tuition had been completed. Auditor General made reference to a figure of just over P6 million that Government had lost as a result. Overall it was established by the Auditor General that IAS owed Government in excess of P44 million.

The Report advised that the ministry should pursue the IAS with the aim of recouping public money. On an unrelated matter, the Dr Letsholathebe has said that due process continues with regard to suspended members of the executive management at Botswana Qualification authority.

The Chief Executive suspended members of her management team shortly after she took over at BQA.

“The officers have been given the opportunity exculpate themselves from any allegations of wrongdoing by way of showing cause why action cannot be taken against them,” said Letsholathebe.

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