PAC grills humanitarian PS for abusing K88, 000


MINISTRY of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs permanent secretary Michael Pwete was yesterday taken to task for allowing payments of K88, 000 in loans without authority from the Secretary to the Treasury.

The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday castigated Mr Pwete for breaching the Finance Control Management Act Chapter 347 of the Laws of Zambia Section 4 (2) by authorising loans which were not cleared by the Treasury.

Committee member Teddy Kasonso reminded Mr Pwete that he breached the Finance (Control and Management) Act with impunity.

The Act states that every controlling officer should be charged with the duty of controlling, subject to any directions by the Secretary to the Treasury, the expenditure on any service in respect of which public funds have been appropriated under that head.

Mr Kasonso, who is Solwezi West UPND lawmaker, told Mr Pwete that he had no authority to use the money without express authorisation by the Secretary to the Treasury.

But Mr Pwete told the committee chaired by Choma Central UPND member of Parliament Cornelius Mweetwa that it was regrettable that K88, 000 was paid without authority from the Secretary to the Treasury.

“This was a lapse on my part. However, recoveries were effected immediately the loans were paid and are still running,” Mr Pwete said.

When asked what prompted him to breach the Finance Act, Mr Pwete said he was human and could not stand seeing his two officers fail to pay for their health service bills.

He explained that the loans were obtained by two officers who almost lost their lives and had he not authorised the payment of K88, 000 loans, they would have lost their lives.

Mr Pwete narrated that one of his officers was involved in a terrible road accident while on duty on his way from Kabwe where he had traveled for a workshop.

“He sustained very serious injuries which could not be attended by UTH and was referred to Italian hospital where he could not afford to settle the bills without me approving his loan,” he said.

He said the controlling officers in the ministry were only human and were looking at preventing the lives of their officers from being lost.

But committee members argued that reasons given by Mr Pwete were not convincing because regardless of the problem, he was supposed to have written to the Secretary to the Treasury seeking authority to issue the loans.

According to the Auditor General’s report, the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs received K1, 500, 000 allocation for transport management to cater for procurement of fuel and lubricants, repair and servicing of motor vehicles as well as motor vehicle insurance.