By Wisdom Mumera
The government says the US$3billion that is alleged by the Public Accounts Committee to have been swindled under the Command Agriculture Program is just a mere administrative error.
Speaking in the National Assembly on Wednesday during the Question and Answer session, Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Perence Shiri said his Ministry simply failed to provide the needed documents and answers when they were requested not to say they were not there.
“There is no US$3 billion which was swindled or missing. It is unfortunate that when the matter was raised by the appropriate Parliamentary Committee, my staff failed to avail correct responses or factual responses.
“The money in question was correctly spent by Government. These are monies which were used to buy grain from the farmers. Whenever farmers sell grain to GMB such as maize, wheat, soya or whatever it might be, they are paid by GMB and GMB gets money from Treasury for the procurement of the grain.
“Some of the money is money which was used to pay for the Presidential Input Scheme. Some of the money was used to pay for utilities such as electricity and others. When all these monies are added together, they add up to the US$3 billion,” he said.
Minister Shiri said whenever such expenditures have been incurred they have to reflect on the budgets of the Ministry and the Ministry was advised of such expenditure well after the end of the financial year.
“So the end of the financial year, the expenditure did not reflect on the Ministry’s budget because the Procurement Authority was not resident in the Ministry.”
Since the revelations by the PAC Minister Shiri said the papers have since been availed to the Ministry.
The PAC raised the issues after the Permanent Secretary and Finance Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture revealed that they didn’t know what had happened to the money because the program was running under the Office of the President and Cabinet.