Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Special funds are at risk of being ransacked ÔÇô Finance PS

The Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Solomon Sekwakwa has raised a red flag on the management of Government Special Funds.

Sekwakwa made his concerns publicly known when appearing before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which is currently investigating the misuse of one of the funds ÔÇô the National Petroleum Fund (NPF). The NPF has been centre of attraction since mid December 2017 after a prominent businessman Bakang Seretse, together with two others, Kenneth Kerekang and Botho Leburu were arraigned before the court of law for issues relating to the financial management of the fund monies.

This week, Sekwakwa told the PAC that currently, the special funds (32) have accumulated monies of just above P10 billion. He told the committee that some of the funds are no longer relevant as they have been duplicated.

“Our Ministry is working on Cabinet Memo to review the special funds and it is upon the Minister of Finance to decide what is appropriate,” said Sekwakwa.

In February 2018, the minister responsible for Finance, Kenneth Matambo told Parliament that public assets and special funds under the custody of government are in a safe pair of hands.

Fast forward to May 2018, Sekwakwa told the PAC that Funds including the NPF monies have been transferred to the central Bank, Bank of Botswana (BoB) to be monitored in one central point.

He further told the committee that the government special funds are a hustle as they are many while others are under reported. He added that they are also exposed to many risks and the risks increase over time.

“It is better to use one oversight authority for easy monitoring of these billions and transparency and accountability are important when dealing with money,” he stated.

Sekwakwa continued, “Loss of money is minimized by good management with good resources and this is what we working on in the ministry. Generally lots of money is tempting and also risky when the money is monitored by many people,” said Sekwakwa.

Quizzed by PAC committee member MP for Bonnington South Ndaba Gaolathe on the lapses and process being followed in the recent controversial NPF transactions, Sekwakwa acknowledged there were lapses adding that following the strict accounting principle of government asserts value is not known currently.

“Procuring what is not provided in the Fund Order is not right but if the accounting officer wanted to make changes should have contacted Ministry of Finance for advice. I am not sure about legalities as Attorney General could advice,” said Sekwakwa.

Sekwakwa told the PAC committee that the ministry is still in the space of finding out the full details of NPF transactions and added that he cannot speculate any information. He said the government investigative authorities are taking care of issues of the disbursements of NPF multimillion Pula transactions.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper