Saturday 2021-10-16

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OUTGOING PS FACES E400 FINE FOR E500M UNAUTHORISED EXPENDITURE

By Sifiso Dlamini | 2021-09-15

Lobamba OUTGOING Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development Bheki Bhembe is facing a E400 fine for spending close to E500 million that had not been budgeted for on three capital projects, including the International Convention Centre and Five Star Hotel (ICCFISH) at Ezulwini.

This was one of the recommendations in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the auditor general’s financial and compliance audit reports on government accounts for the financial year ended March 2020. The Auditor General, Timothy Matsebula, reported that there was unauthorised capital expenditure incurred on three projects, amounting to E499 131761.51.

These projects had no budget released but incurred actual expenditures. These were the G58563-Construction of International Convention Centre, G61663 Five Star Hotel and W37570 and Water and Sanitation for Nkhungwini, Mhlange.

The Controlling Officer Bhembe, explained that there was no projected expenditure on the International Convention Centre project (G585/63) during the period audited, however, there were amounts remaining in the project accounts of both the ICCFISH at the Central Bank. He said funds were required to avert a crisis on the project in which material had been ordered by the contractor from Taiwan, but could not be paid and was held at customs.

As such an amount of E16.3 million was required to release the material. With regards to the Five Star Hotel, project (G616/63), the controlling officer explained that at the time of the mid-term forecast 2018, the anticipated expenditure was E464 million however, more funds were required during the financial year under review, hence the actual expenditure incurred was E494 527 610. The controlling officer was fined E400.00 for spending funds that had not been budgeted for.

He is also warned never to spend funds that were not budgeted for. The fine is payable within seven days after adoption of this report by the House, failing which he will be charged with contempt of Parliament.

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