Sunday, December 5, 2021

Finance Ministry fails to account for P1 billion in De Beers deal

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning was at pain this week to account for 1 billion Pula which was removed from government remittance account (Revenue Account) and injected into DeBeers in 2008. It emerged during the meeting that there is no accounting trail for the huge transfer and the money is reflected as missing in the government books of accounts.

Member of Parliament for Tati-East, Guma Moyo who is also member of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) accused the ministry of failing to justify why the money was removed from the Revenue Account.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Solomon Sekwakwa together with her assistant Emma Peloetletse could not succeed in their effort to explain the circumstances surrounding the un-accounted money. Sekwakwa was at pain to explain to the committee that even though the money is not reflecting in PAC books as closed accounts, they have not lost anything as they are benefitting by getting some annual returns from Debswana.

He said the money was injected because all the shareholders were obliged to inject equity in proportion to their shareholding and Botswana’s government shareholding amounted to 1 billion in assisting DeBeers which was not doing well during economic crisis. He said the 1 billion Pula was injected into DeBeers as equity and it was just a mistake that the account was not closed and they would look into their books to reconcile ‘because the money is not missing.’ He added that it’s just that they could not justify why it was not reconciled and closed into accounting books well in time.

He further told the committee that the ministry is facing some challenges of limited resources. This did not go well with Moyo who then told Sekwakwa to “stop and listen, because I cannot believe that the ministry which deals with all accounts of government can tell the nation that they have limited resources.” ‘’Do you mean human resources like shortage of staff, or what are you trying to say,” asked Moyo.

MP Moyo who is a former Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning did not take kindly to the answer provided by the ministry. ‘’Do you mean a material figure of 1 billion Pula can just be left hanging without being accounted for. Do you know that if the system of accounts collapse then it collapses all the systems of government, so you can’t say you have limited resources, ‘’ quizzed Moyo.

The Permanent Secretary told the committee that they would investigate the matter and try to look for the audit trail and see if there was a mistake in entering the statement which could not balance the Parliamentary Public accounting Books. The committee then agreed to monitor the situation and advise the ministry to correct such a big mistake in the next PAC meeting next year.

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