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AG flags dodgy Met Dept deal

Twelve years after making part payment of US$100 000 towards the acquisition of a hydrogen generator, necessary for accurate weather forecasting, the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) is yet to conclude the sale and receive the generator.

The machine cost about US$670 000 then.

This negative development is a result of the Ministry of Finance, which has not released the necessary foreign currency to clear the balance required.

This was revealed by the Auditor General (AG)’s 2020 report for Appropriation Accounts, Finance Accounts, Revenue Statements and Fund Account, which indicated there is high risk that the procurement of the generator may not be finalised resulting in negative service delivery.

The AG’s office discovered this when it was auditing the 2018 Meteorological Services Fund, whose objective was established to facilitate the provision of weather-related services and products and to undertake projects that enable the smooth running of the Meteorological Services operations.

The Meteorological Services Fund also provides additional funding for the importation of equipment and raw materials not available in Zimbabwe.

In her report, the AG, Mildred Chiri, noted how incomplete procurement processes impacted negatively on service delivery to the public, noting that at the time of concluding her audit in February 2020, the procurement of the generator was not yet finalised.

Chiri highlighted that US$100 000 was made as a part payment for the hydrogen generator and the money amounted to 15 percent (€72 241) of the total value of the generator paid to Meteo France International.

“In February 2020 processing of the balance payment and delivery of the generator had not been done. The procurement process has taken more than 12 years to conclude. Delays in processing of the full payment and delivery of the generator impacts negatively on service delivery to the public. Furthermore, due to passage of time the supplier may fail to deliver the asset resulting in loss of financial resources” Chiri said in the report.

The AG noted the sale contract with Meteo France International may no longer be valid because of the period of time which has lapsed implying a financial loss of the amount paid.

As a recommendation, Chiri advised the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement to engage the Treasury with the aim of resolving the matter.

“This issue has been deliberated on with the Ministry of Finance for the past twelve years but they have not released the necessary foreign currency to clear the balance. The issue has taken too long to be resolved and management has not been clear on whether the purchase contract is still valid,” said the AG.

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