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MBABANE – A total of E1.8 billion loans borrowed by government remain unpaid.

The Auditor General’s findings contained in the Public Accounts Committee have unearthed this figure. “Loans amounting to E1 883 418 196.84 dating back to 1967 which were borrowed by the Central Government on behalf of parastatals remain unserviced. The parastatals argue that the loans were converted into equity,” reads the report in part.

The committee stated that the controlling officer disclosed that his ministry made site visits to the public enterprises concerned to pursue the issue of the loans but they were informed that the loans were converted into equity. However, no single parastatal could produce documented evidence of this said conversion.

Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Finance is Bheki Bhembe.  The PAC recommended that the controlling officer ought to be urged to seek an opinion from the Attorney General on how to conclude this matter within 60 calendar days after adoption of the report by the House of Assembly, failing which he would be charged with contempt of Parliament. 

“This legal opinion will influence a Cabinet decision on how to put the matter to bed, failing which he will be charged with contempt of Parliament,” the Thuli Dladla led committee warned.  It should be stated that a cash management unit has been established in the Ministry of Finance. The report mentioned that government has also developed a model for forecasting public sector borrowing requirements which helps in cash flow management.

“Once the Public Management Bill becomes law, the Internal Audit office shall be legally established. Staff from the Internal Audit Department is currently being trained through technical assistance from the European Union. The training will be for 225 days and it began in April 2017,” it was disclosed.

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