Lesotho: PAC Grills Finance

Maladministration of Old Age Pension Scheme was top of the agenda at the Public Account Committee meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Finance held at the Parliament premises on Monday.

The meeting was intended to analyse the use and management of public finances by the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the law takes its course where corruption took place, following the audit report from the Auditor General.

Speaking at the event, the Public Accounts Committee Chairperson, Mr. Selibe Mochoboroane and his team requested the Ministry to clarify why there were pension payments to ghost pensioners, lack of supervision and monitoring at pay-points, delay in updating lists as well as inadequate cash boxes among others.

Responding to payment of ghost pensioners, the Director of Pensions, Mr. Thabo Ramochela said they are faced with a challenge of family members who do not disclose deaths of beneficiaries and public officers who do not disclose all deaths.

He added that payments are made with a firm believe that pensioners are still alive until office is notified of their demise, however expressed concern that local authorities continue to submit letters certifying existence of late pensioners.

He however acknowledged corrupt acts by some officers, saying those who were found guilty of taking ghost pensioners' money were dismissed from work without getting gratuity and some of them were convicted of fraud and are in prison.

He further said they took measures such as rotation of paying officers and accountants to combat malpractices and identify deceased pensioners in addition to surprise checks of records.

Other questions raised by the Public Accounts Committee include failure of some parastatals to pay revenue on grounds that they do not make profit and such parastatals included among others, Avani hotels, Lesotho flower mills and Econet.

In response to the issues relating to parastatals, the Deputy Principal Secretary for the ministry of Finance, Mrs. Teboho 'Mokela said the Ministry has requested a consultant who is expected to arrive in the country before end of this month (February) to review the performance of parastatals in terms of governance so to address such challenges.

The Ministry of Finance presented responses on general accounting and system weaknesses for the year 2014 regarding wrongful classification of revenue, regularity of expenditure and old age pension scheme among others.

The Public Accounts Committee meetings with other Ministries has been scheduled until April this year.

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