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Ministry reviews special funds to prevent misuse

FINANCE MINISTER: Serame

Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame says the ministry is reviewing the Special Funds to close existing gaps and avoid misuse.

Answering a question in parliament of Wednesday, Serame said the process which began in July 2018, is expected to have been completed by the 31st of March next year when all the 12 Special Funds would now use the new Fund Order.

Serame was answering questions from Maun West legislator, Dumelang Saleshando, who enquired about the balance held in each of the funds, as well as when they were last audited.

The minister told parliament that as of the 12of July this year, the 12 Special Funds had a cumulative amount of P2.2 billion, with the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) having the highest amount at P800 million while the Cattle Export Levy had the least at P8.2 million.

On when the Funds were last audited, Serame said nine of the 12 Special Funds have published audit reports for the 2019/2020 financial year, whereas the two are for 2015/2016 and one for 2018/2019.

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“The ones that are for 2015/2016 are the Levy on alcoholic beverages and the Tobacco and Tobacco products levy. Those are the two that were audited in 2015.2016 while for the NPF the report is for 2018/2019,” said Serame.

According to Serame, the reason why the Levy on alcoholic beverages was last audited five years ago was due to the limitation on the access of records.

Meanwhile, Serame said the Special Funds have been utilised in line with the purpose stated in the Fund Orders.

“However, there were some instances where Special Funds were utilised for activities that are not related to the purpose stated in the Fund Orders, for instance, for the financial years 2015/2016 and 2016/2017, the National Road Safety was used on renovations for the Department of Road and Safety offices which is not in line with the purpose of the Fund.”

Some of the breaches to the Fund Orders, Serame said were due to vague provisions in some of the Fund Orders which led to different interpretations, thus leaving room for accounting Officers to use their discretion in spending the money held under such funds.

To ensure this does not happen going forward, Serame said this is the reason why the ministry is undertaking a comprehensive review of all the Fund Orders to identify gaps and make necessary amendments.

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“The review was also necessary to bring the Fund Orders in line with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism standards geared towards combating any threats to the integrity of the International Finance System.”

Serame said the review process has been completed, revealing that to date 10 of the 12 drafts revise orders are with the Attorney General’s Chambers for issuance of the necessary statutory instruments.

She said the two remaining ones, being the Cattle Export Levy and the Human Resource Development Fund draft orders have been submitted to the respective ministries to address issues raised by the Attorney General’s Chambers.

The minister said she expects full compliance across all Special Funds by the 31st of March next year.

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