The National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) failed to comply with the Loan Bursary Regulations of 1978 and has not been preparing annual financial statements since 2002.
There exists carelessness at NMDS where there is no accountability and public funds are spent without any monitoring.
These are among the stark realities of dysfunctional management at the manpower revealed in a report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which was presented to parliament last Friday.
The Night’s Watch has obtained a copy of the data-packed, 71-page report.
“The National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) has not been preparing the financial statements for over years despite the requirement of Section 14(1) of the Loan Bursary Fund Regulations of 1978,” the report states.
It adds that: “Their last financial statements were for the years 2002. The Government of Lesotho gives NMDS about M690 million to assist Basotho children to further their studies, but the Secretariat has failed to produce reconciled financial statements for consolidation by the Accounts General.”
When asked about these issues during PAC hearings, Ministry of Development Planning officials cited “shortage of staff as a contributing factor for non-reconciliation of accounts and inability” to prepare financial statements.
Moreover, they report says, “they blamed rotation of staff from the accounting cadre that they are always left with new staff who lack experience”.
However, the committee did not agree with “all these excuses” and indicated that eleven staff members could do reconciliation and prepare the financial statements.
The report says situation at NMDS was also substantiated by the Audit Inspection Report of Loan Bursary Fund for the Three Financial Years ended 31 March 2013.
Among other findings, the PAC also found that there was non-maintenance of “cash book; “improper maintenance of a bank register; non-preparation of bank reconciliation statements; non-authorisation of the students list by the council and the minister and non-availability of Acceptance forms”.
“This was a shocking situation that shows that public funds are seriously exposed to fraud and misappropriation. The Committee observed that there exists carelessness at NMDS where there is no accountability and public funds are spent without any monitoring,” the report states.
The carelessness has led to the over-payments of allowances to students from different schools, lack of records for loan repayments, among others.
The report indicates that in the absence of records, PAC could not establish whether the graduates were repaying the loans.