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OWING CIVIL SERVANTS BUSTED TRYING TO CHEAT GOVERNMENT

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MBABANE – The levels of corruption in the civil service have gone up a notch.

It has been discovered that two civil servants, who were owing government E100 000 and E50 000, respectively under the Community Poverty Reduction Fund, tried to cancel off their debts by manipulating the system. The office of the Auditor General has since reported to the Public Accounts Committee that some debts to government were cancelled without proper justification. An example of the irregular cancellations related to two beneficiaries’ names where in one instance, a repayment of E1 000 was recorded as E100 000 in the books thereby unlawfully cancelling the whole debt, resulting in a loss of E99 000 of public funds.  The AG further reported that a repayment of E500 as E50 000 resulting in the cancellation of the debt and a loss of public funds amounting to E49 500. This was allegedly attributed to a system error or log error. “However, I am not convinced that the act was due to a system error, but I consider it to be a human error or a deliberate fraudulent act. The matter should be investigated by the police and or the Anti-Corruption Commission.”

Action

In response, the accountant general stated that the Fraud Section had been assigned to investigate and consider appropriate action on the matter. In 2017, about 60 former and present civil servants committed to repaying money they had benefited from the Community Poverty Reduction Fund. In 2016, the auditor general, in his report, noted a number of irregularities regarding the disbursement of the fund. The fund, which was established in the year 2009, was allocated a sum of E20 million, but out of the E19 950 000 which had been disbursed, E16 174 108.52, had still not been paid back as of March 31, 2016. It was discovered that about E3 million of the money was allocated to civil servants, some of whom were administrators of the Fund at the Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development and the money had still not been paid back for over five years.  In response the controlling officers concurred with the anomalies noted by the auditor general and stated that new regulations had been drafted and they are awaiting Cabinet approval. She also stated that ministry had already made the debtors to sign affidavits stating when and how they planned to pay back the money.

Failed

Over 60 present and former civil servants also appeared before the PAC Committee in June 2017 to give account on why they had failed to pay back the money and subsequently signed acknowledgement of debt forms as well as affidavits detailing a payment schedule. The PAC urged the controlling officer to liaise with all the relevant ministries where the owing civil servants are stationed and ensure that the owed balances are deducted from their salaries.

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