LOBAMBA: Some Cabinet ministers have been accused of overspending when fueling their cars.
On Thursday, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) learnt through Ministry of Finance Principal Secretary, Sizakele Dlamini that she finds it hard to control the use of fuel on Cabinet ministers’ cars.
Dlamini told the PAC headed by Matsanjeni MP, Phila Buthelezi that as a ministry they resolved that Cabinet ministers should fill up fuel in their cars once per week, as a general recommendation as an effort to cut down over expenditure.
The controlling officer went on to tell the PAC that they have had to confront some ministers for spending more on fuel than what is being allocated for them, adding that that prompted the resolution to fill up once a week.
The PS reminded the committee that government comes from an era where Cabinet ministers drove their own cars with a car allowance and they filled up fuel as they willed, which made it a lot easier for the ministry in terms of setting a budget for servicing the cars.
Dlamini added that currently, they do not have a formal system in place to control the consumption of fuel by ministers going forward, but assured that with other relevant departments, they were working towards setting it up.
She said the Finance Circular No. 2 of 2013 which gives privileges to Cabinet ministers, including the use of official cars excludes procedures on fuel filling, which led to the PAC chairman advising that it be amended instead of relying on a memorandum.
Buthelezi stated that the Attorney General (AG) should also be part of the ministers and abide by the amended Circular, to which the controlling officer concurred.
Meanwhile PAC heaped praises on the ministry for introducing the Digital POS Swiping Machines at the government revenue offices, saying it has quickened the paying of returns.
Chairman of the PAC, Matsanjeni MP Phila Buthelezi said the shift from the traditional cash payments to the electronic method has improved the financial system and saved a lot in terms of time. He said gone are the days where people are to carry large sums of money for payments. However, the chairman advised that the machines be made visible for all to see and not be kept under the tables so that people can make full use of them.
In this regard, the PS mentioned that the digital machines are in full swing in many of the government departments where payments are to be made, and have proved very effective as well as lessened the load on the finance ministry.
The controlling officer mentioned that in fact, they have virtually migrated to the electronic system of operation but were not without problems, citing the use of portal invoicing where invoices are captured electronically. Dlamini said the problem with portal invoicing is that it does not provide duplicates, which are necessary for accounting purposes, which includes record keeping and referencing.