PUBLIC Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Selibe Mochoboroane says his committee is pulling out all the stops including attending local and external capacity building programmes to ensure the parliamentary body is fully equipped to fight corruption in the civil service.
Mr Mochoboroane said existing national laws and two training programmes organised by the African Development Bank (ADB) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) would go a long way in capacitating the PAC to help combat the rampant corruption in the civil service.
PAC members have been attending a three-day ADB training workshop which ends today in Maseru. The workshop is being conducted in partnership with the Lesotho Institute of Accountants (LIA). The GIZ workshop will be held at the end of the annual general meeting of the Southern African Development Community Organisation of Public Accounts Committees (SADCOPAC) in Windhoek, Namibia from 13 to 21 September 2018.
Mr Mochoboroane is expected to table a progress report on the work of the PAC in Lesotho at the SADCOPAC meeting.
PAC has been making headlines since the start of the year with their robust and aggressive public hearings which have exposed corruption and malfeasance in various government ministries and departments.
PAC has been praised by the public for exposing corruption within the civil service. Three weeks ago, the public learnt, through PAC hearings, how the government reportedly lost US$130 930 508 (about M1, 83 billion) in three financial years, 2009/10 to 2011/12 due to the failure by the Ministry of Mining to collect taxes from diamond mining companies.
A fortnight go, the nation also learnt from the PAC hearings that the government allegedly lost M119, 5 million revenue which could have been collected in royalties from Letšeng Diamonds from 2009 to 2012, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently heard.
According to the Auditor General’s report of 2014, Letšeng has been paying royalties at the rate of eight percent instead of the 10 percent stipulated by the Mines and Minerals Act of 2005.
This, according to the auditor’s report, has led to a shortfall of M119, 5 million in revenue that could have been collected by the government.
This was revealed during the appearance of Mining ministry officials before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Natural Resources Committee (NRC).
Despite these apparent achievements, Mr Mochoboroane has chosen to be diplomatic, insisting in interviews with this publication that it was still premature to conclude that the PAC had succeeded in its mandate of tackling corruption in the civil service.
The PAC proceedings are carried out in line with the parliamentary standing orders which state that the PAC shall consider any audit reports issued on the financial statements and accounts of the government departments referred to the committee by the National Assembly and the Speaker of the National Assembly.
The PAC may also initiate an investigation on any issue and table its findings and recommendations in parliament thereafter.
Once the report is tabled and adopted as an official document of the National Assembly, the findings and recommendations are binding.
Mr Mochoboroane on Friday said there were growing concerns in the region that national PACs have a tendency of abandoning their reports immediately after they are adopted in parliament.
He said that the PACs were expected to make follow-ups and oversee the finality of the implementation of the adopted reports as justice was a long-drawn-out process starting from investigations to prosecution of suspects.
“SADCOPAC has in the past raised concerns that PACs have tendencies of not seeing through their work to finality. As a PAC chairperson, I will present a report showing how far Lesotho has gone in addressing concerns that PACs abandon their reports immediately after tabling them in parliament,” Mr Mochoboroane said.
He said it was a good thing that in Lesotho there were standing orders that allowed the PAC to follow-up on the implementation of its recommendations after they were adopted by the parliament.
He however, said the critical and missing aspect was the actual implementation of PAC recommendations.