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House teams want embezzlers punished

1st March 2011
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Three parliamentary oversight committees which convened for five days in Bagamoyo for routine meetings have advised the government to take to task authorities and public servants involved in the embezzlement of public funds.

Reading the committees’ resolutions compiled at the end of the five-day training programme on Saturday, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman John Cheyo said immediate punitive measures would reduce incidences of misuse of public funds.

He proposed disciplinary measures to include filing lawsuits, demotions or retrenching public servants involved in the wasteful use of scarce taxpayers’ money.

“The government should establish a special mechanism that will help make frequent follow-ups on how public funds disbursed for various projects are spent. In this respect, donors will have confidence in the way their money is spent,” said Cheyo.

He stated that the government should consider the possibility of recruiting senior officials of public institutions and their departments on a contract basis to enhance accountability and respective councils should be entitled to recruit low cadre employees.

Cheyo also noted that the council’s officials entrusted with handling of public funds should prepare timely and clear reports to facilitate easy auditing as well as evaluation by the oversight committees.

The three oversight committee also recommended that parliamentary regulations should oblige the Treasury Registrar to issue development reports on the state of investments in the public institutions where the government owned below 50 per cent shares.

Amendments in the Procurement Act (2004), according to the resolutions, should be discussed by the parliamentary oversight committees because they are major players in all issues regarding government procurement.

In addition, the procurement authorities should participate in meetings involving the three committees.

The committees warned over some government officials interfering with the duties and obligations of the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), saying it was against the law.

“CAG powers to perform duties and obligations come from the Constitution,” Cheyo said.

Also, the government was asked to consider a possibility of granting the National Audit Office (NAO) powers to recruit and establish the Audit Revenue Fund.

Last week, National Assembly Speaker Anne Makinda warned members of the three oversight committees against accepting kickbacks to enhance accountability and transparency in the use of taxpayers’ money and maintain integrity.

The three oversight committees include the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by John Cheyo, Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAAC) chaired by Augustine Mrema and Public Organisations Accounts Committee (POAC) chaired by Zitto Kabwe.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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