- P1 billion irregular payments to De Beers
- P4. 9 billion transacted from BoB unaccounted for
- BoB oblivious on government transactions
- Ask Ministry of Finance or Attorney General, Governor says
- “We do not want to get involved,” says Governor
- Auditor General calls for Investigations
Bank of Botswana (BoB), the country’s central bank says it knows nothing in a matter in which the Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, raised queries over billions of Pula transacted from the Bank of Botswana (BoB) which, according to the Auditor General, government has failed to account for.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at the central bank, had on Monday morning this week, scheduled a media briefing to update the media on latest monetary policy changes. However, to business scribes, it was just an opportune time to corner Governor Moses Pelaelo and his team of financial pundits into explaining what exactly had happened. This was after the Auditor General Report was released and published during the weekend.
At the press briefing this Monday, journalists asked the Governor and his team of experts to explain that transaction, which according to the Auditor General, was transacted through the BoB. Pelaelo’s answer was that they are neither aware nor involved in such a transaction. “We do not want to be involved,” he said, adopting his usual conservative and diplomatic response to issues by government officials.
He said that together with his team, they are not aware of any investigation recommendation by the Auditor General. “I suggest that you ask the Auditor General and the Ministry of Finance on the matter, maybe they will answer you better,” he said.
Interestingly, the BoB is the custodian of government money, which means that government accounts are held by the them although of course they report to the Ministry of Finance. BoB should be aware of any transaction made from government accounts held by itself because the payment is authorized by a senior employee of the bank if not the Governor. It is surprising how BoB claims ignorance.
BoB in the dark over non- compliant billions paid to DE BEERS
In the report, the Auditor General said that in the previous report, a payment of P1, 018, 329 939 was made through the Government Remittances Account at Bank of Botswana which was noted as being for the purchase of shares in De Beers SA.
While the Auditor General says that some of these non-compliant transactions date as far back as 2005, neither Government nor De Beers ever announced such a transaction , given that De Beers is partners with government through Debswana and such government interests are always of public interest and not kept secret.
Interestingly, Letebele said this expenditure was not processed through the books of accounts as there was no budgetary provision in the accounts from which payment would have been made. This simply means that there was no budget nor plans by government for such an expenditure, which would explain why the expenditure was not even processes through the books of accounts.
However, in an attempt to bring this expenditure to account, the Auditor General said the Accounting Officer had charged P344 732 617 against an available balance under statutory expenditure account while the balance of P673 597 322 was held under advances class of accounts pending availability of funds from some other account(s):
“I have advised the Accounting Officer that charging non-statutory expenditure to a statutory expenditure account was not correct, and that he should reconsider this treatment. Despite the considerable lapse of time since the date of my communication, I had still not received his response at the time of writing this report.”