“ In my report for the financial year 2016/2017 I had commented that there were considerable delays in accounting for unclaimed social security benefits (Old Age Pension, World War II veterans, etc.) by Botswana Post to the Department of Social Protection. In that report I had indicated that unclaimed benefits amounting to P33 723 248, covering the period from November 2014 to October 2015 had not been remitted to the Department until financial year 2016/17; and that unpaid benefits amounting to P26 063 010 in respect of financial year 2016/17 had not yet been paid over at the end of that year.
In his written submission to the Public Accounts Committee the Accounting Officer had informed the Committee that he had taken up the matter with Botswana Post, and that he expected improvement from January 2019.
However, an interim audit of these payments for the financial year ended 31 March 2019 had indicated that challenges surrounding accounting for these benefits had persisted: unclaimed benefits amounting to P35 766 575 in respect of the period from 2014/15 to 2016/17 for deceased beneficiaries had been manually adjusted to a revenue account, and incorrectly so, as this has now left an outstanding debit under the funds advanced to Botswana Post for these payments.
The interim audit had also noted that the agency which is contracted for the payment of social security benefits in the Southern Region, Sandulela, was taking too long to account for funds advanced to it for the payment of the benefits: an amount of P114 443 660 paid to Sandulela covering the period from September 2016 to March 2018 was only accounted for in November 2018, including a cheque for P6 200 000 for unclaimed benefits; payments totaling P56 252 420 to Sandulela, covering the period from September 2018 to April 2019, in the financial 2018/19 had yet to be accounted for at the time of audit in January 2020.
The foregoing observations indicate that there is much to be done to bring about improvement in these transactions in line with the Accounting Officer’s assurance to the Public Accounts Committee during the 56th meeting. In view of the large amounts involved for both
Botswana Post and Sandulela there is the risk of loss of control over these funds if the terms of agreements are not strictly followed, Stated the Auditor General in newly released report.