PAC to present findings to parly
THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is finalising its work after hearings with various government departments and it will soon table its findings and recommendations before parliament, its chairperson, Selibe Mochoboroane, has said.
Mr Mochoboroane also said that the 10-member inter-party committee deserved praise for going above the call of duty and conducting hearings on the basis of three audit reports from the office of the Auditor General instead of just one as they were supposed to.
PAC has been making headlines since February last year with its 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. Last August, 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.
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).
More recently, the PAC met different departments that included the Ministry of Mining whose officials were taken to task over their failure to provide satisfactory answers concerning the exact number of diamonds in their possession.
Speaking on the PAC’s achievements in a recent interview with the Sunday Express, Mr Mochoboroane revealed that they had successfully conducted hearings to deal with concerns raised in three auditor general’s reports for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“We managed to cover three auditor general’s books dating in 11 months whereas we were only mandated to deal with one book,” Mr Mochoboroane said.
“Since we started work in February last year, we have covered all the government ministries’ queries which were raised by the auditor general but there are some individuals who are still to appear before the PAC to enable us complete our report.
“I cannot divulge the details of the report we are preparing before we present it to parliament. I can only reveal that there are civil servants who were suspended after being implicated in some crimes but I cannot say who they are or how many have been prosecuted. Prosecutions are handled by the police and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).
“For our part, we will report to parliament on our findings and also make recommendations. The good thing is that the police and DCEO do not have to wait for us to report but they can start prosecutions whenever they believe a crime has been committed.”
The members of the PAC are Mr Mochoboroane of the Movement for Economic Change, Thuso Litjobe (Alliance of Democrats), Teboho Sekata (Lesotho Congress for Democracy), Palo Letete and Mathibeli Mokhothu (Democratic Congress) as well as Sam Rapapa, Nyapane Kaya, Thabo Sofonea, Likopo Mahase and Matšepo Ramakoae (all from the All Basotho Convention).
Mr Mochoboroane said they had to overcome serious hurdles in the execution of their duties.
“The major challenge we faced was that of having to deal with outdated reports. Some of the people who had to appear before the PAC had since passed on, others resigned and left the country,” Mr Mochoboroane said.