ZANZIBAR PRESIDENT Dr Hussein Mwinyi on Saturday received the 2021/22 Controller and Auditor General (CAG) report with hopes that the future was promising in ending embezzlement and theft on public funds.
The new report indicates that 146 public institutions, which is about 91 per cent of all 160 audited institutions got unqualified opinions, while only one got qualified opinion and the remaining 13 institutions got adverse opinion. Revenue collection has also increased by 55.1 per cent from 712.43bn/- in 2022/21 to 937.66bn/- in 2021/22.
The President explained that the increased revenue collection along with increased investment was an indication of a better future with regard to financial discipline.
“However, based on the CAG report, it is clear that we still have challenges in all public offices with regards to collection and expenditure.
Cheating, theft and misuse of funds are still common,” Dr Mwinyi said at the State House after CAG Dr Othman Abbas Ali handed over the report.
“Everyone has a role in ensuring all loopholes leading to corruption, theft of public funds and shoddy works end in government projects. We need to collaborate to end indiscipline,” said Dr Mwinyi.
He directed the Zanzibar Anti-Corruption and Economic Crime Authority (ZAECA) and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to investigate public servants implicated in the CAG report.
The President said: “I will present the report to the ZAECA so that they dig deeper into the report so that all officers implicated in the report are dealt with and taken to court by respective institutions. But ZAECA has to work with the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).”
CAG Ali identified unaccountable funds in public offices, including the Ministry of Blue Economy and Fisheries (Not value for money and violation of contract in manufacturing); Ministry of Water, Energy and Minerals; Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (with substandard and not value for money projects); and State Ministry- Regional Administration, Local Government and Special Department (with questionable projects and unaccountable funds).
Other offices are the Ministry of Health (expired medical equipment and medicines, including pregnancy testing kits which also gave positive pregnancy results to male and female without pregnancy); tampering with Z-Tax payment system of the Zanzibar Revenue Authority (ZRA) and unclear road funds.
The CAG recommended establishment of a centralised payment system that connects all sources of payment in the government such as seaports and airports for easy tracking and capacity building of the House of Representatives- Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAC) so that its members can help the government work on the CAG reports.
Dr Mwinyi responded by promising to consider the recommendations, including to speed up payment of compensation to people whose properties have been removed/destroyed to pave way for government development projects. He said some victims have waited for too long, for about ten years, to be compensated.
The President re-emphasised that reading of the CAG report in public will continue annually and public servants found guilty in the report will not be spared, and that Zanzibaris should cooperate with the respective authorities to expose dishonest officers in the government.