AG’S REPORT RIPS INTO NERCHA

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AG’S REPORT RIPS INTO NERCHA
AG’S REPORT RIPS INTO NERCHA

Africa-Press – Eswatini. The auditor general has uncovered many other irregularities happening within the ministry of health that involve the National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS.

These include the non-delivery of medical drugs procured through NERCHA including, but not limited to anti-retroviral (ARVs) treatment.

This is contained in the Financial Audit Report on the Consolidated Government Accounts of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the Financial Year Ended March 31, 2023.

AG Timothy Matsebula reported unverified delivery of medical drugs procured through NERCHA.

He said from the funds transferred by the ministry of health to NERCHA for the procurement of medical drugs on behalf of government, it transpired that NERCHA submitted a financial report as at November 2023 indicating expenditure totalling E83 204 806.86 (US$4 573 989.69).

He said the ministry therefore, violated Section 52(3) of the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act, which requires principal secretaries to put in place procedures consistent with the PFM Act, the Procurement Act, 2011 (Act No. 7 of2011) or any other law for verifying the receipt of goods and services prior to payment for the goods and services or that the payment otherwise meets the terms of the contract between the public entity and the supplier.

“The lack of clear records and discrepancy between reported expenditure and delivered supplies raises concern about the potential misappropriation or mismanagement of funds,” he said.

Matsebula added that if the reported expenditure does not align with the actual quantity and value of medical supplies delivered, there is a risk of inadequate supply of essential drugs, compromising public health services.

“Failure to differentiate between donated items and purchased supplies hampers accountability and transparency in the procurement process, leading to a lack of confidence in the management of public funds,” he said.

Matsebula also revealed that some ARVs were not delivered at all, while some were delivered in short supply and these date back to 2022.

ARVs worth over E111 million remained undelivered in February 2024, according to the AG.

Purchase

These included the purchase order PO7278 which had short-deliveries amounting to E6 245 679.37 and it has been outstanding since November 24, 2022, that is 15 months as at February 2024.

The purchase order PO7826 had short-deliveries amounting to E48 822 488.26 and it has been outstanding since March 13, 2023, that is 11 months as at February 2024.

“Even though, the supplier’s records revealed that purchase order number P07278 and P07826 were fully delivered, there were no records at Central Medical Stores to confirm such deliveries. While, the ARVs financial report as at November 30, 2023 from NERCHA depicted that both purchase orders had short-deliveries amounting to E55 068 167.63,” the AG said.

“However, upon investigation, it was found that the reported expenditure did not correspond to the quantity and value of medical supplies delivered to the Central Medical Stores (CMS) and recorded as received from NERCHA,” Matsebula said.

He said procedures for confirmation of the medical supplies delivered through NERCHA was unsuccessful because according to records at the Central Medical Stores, items recorded as received from NERCHA were so trivial in comparison with the amount expended and included items denoted as donated.

Matsebula said the recorded deliveries represented only a small fraction of what was reported, raising concerns about the occurrence, accuracy and completeness of the reported expenditure.

Matsebula said he advised the controlling officer to implement robust documentation procedures to differentiate between donated items and supplies purchased using government funds.

This includes maintaining accurate records of procurement transactions, including invoices, receipts and delivery notes.

He added that the ministry should also, in collaboration with NERCHA, ensure thorough reconciliation of reported expenditure with actual deliveries to ensure accuracy and completeness of financial reporting.

Matsebula said the controlling officer was advised to further implement stronger internal controls and oversight mechanisms to prevent mismanagement or misappropriation of funds.

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