Made delays GMB revival

AGRICULTURE minister Joseph Made has failed to implement leadership change at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) despite parliamentary directive to revive the parastatal.

The National Assembly Public Accounts Committee and a local audit firm last year gave the Zanu PF legislator six months to fire management at the parastatal after a damning audit unearthed misappropriation and poor leadership at GMB.

However, six months down the line Made is yet to effect the recommendations. In its examination of the GMB Value for Money Audit Report and Audited Accounts for the financial years ended March 2011-14. (S.C.1, 2015), the parliamentary committee recommended that government immediately change the leadership at the Charles Chikaura-chaired parastatal.

“On the overall, government must urgently review the composition and membership of the Board of the GMB. Once complete, the new board should be tasked to conduct a review of the management of the GMB.

“In the Committee’s view, GMB was failing to deliver on its statutory mandate of ensuring food security in the country. The entity lacked adequate skills at both the board of directors and Management levels to move the organisation forward,” the committee chairperson Paurina Mpariwa said in November last year.

The committee also noted that Made was turning a blind eye to mismanagement and misappropriation of funds at the State run grain body.

“The ministry of Agriculture . . . which oversees the operations of GMB is also turning a blind eye on Audit findings,” Mpariwa said then.

This was after the audit report revealed that the GMB had continued to receive qualified opinions for the years 2011-13 from the office of the Auditor-General, without acting on recommendations.

“GMB has been receiving opinions and recommendations for the periods under review, which is clear evidence that the Board and Management of GMB were reluctant to act on recommendations by the Auditor General year after year,” Mpariwa said.

According to the report’s findings, grain inventories that were impaired (under-grades) in 2013 amounted to $11,6 million (2011/12 $14,6 million).

The audit further observed that the Board was owed $31,4 million in outstanding revenue during financial year 2011-12 of which $27,9 million was related to storage and handling charges for the current and prior grain intake periods.

The audit also unearthed that cash and bank balances were not as the cashbook figure included in the financial statements of $17,2 million could not be reconciled to the bank balance amount of $ 15,8 million by $1,4 million.

According to Mpariwa, the committee had come to the conclusion that GMB was failing to deliver on its statutory mandate of ensuring food security in the country and urgently needed new leadership.

“It is also the Committee’s view that government was to some extent interfering with the operations of GMB to a level where the Management cannot be held accountable for certain actions,” she said.

As part of recommendations, the committee said the parastatal must improve on its accounting system to avoid imbalances between the cash books and what is in the computer system.

The parastatal which to date owes maize farmers for grain delivered during the 2014/15 season has continuously failed to timeously pay farmers for their produce, leading to disruptions in the planting season.

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