The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development returned N$300 million to treasury last year despite a national housing crisis that has at times threatened to boil over.
This information is contained in the Auditor General’s report for the year ended 31 March 2017 that was tabled in Parliament this week.
In the report, Auditor General, Junias Kandjeke, warned accounting officers to guard against drawing up excessive estimates when drafting their ministry’s budgets and not to request excessively more than what is needed and can be spent.
Part of the N$300 million returned to treasury include about N$83 million that was meant for capital expenditure such as feasibility studies, construction, renovation and improvement of government organisations.
Other notable audit findings by the auditor general’s office include an unexplained unauthorized expenditure at the ministry of over N$3 million.
Only N$9.7 million was approved for subsistence and travel allowances, but the ministry exceeded that cap by spending N$13.8 million.
The tender board approved N$7.4 million in contracts for utilities, but the ministry ended up using N$10.9 million.
“It is recommended that the accounting officer should explain why exempted amounts were exceeded, why office furniture and equipment were purchased under the exemption while there was no provision for it,” the report stated.
This is not the first time that the crucial ministry responsible for urban housing has returned money to the country’s coffers.
In 2014 and 2013, auditors found that the ministry returned N$300 million and N$31 million, respectively.
In 2013, the N$31 million could have been used to build around 100 low-cost houses.
In 2014, N$100 million of the N$300 million underspent, was meant to fund the controversial mass housing project that was suspended. That N$100 million was enough to build 285 low-cost houses valued at N$350,000 each.
Prime Minister, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, has previously warned against the returning of state funds, saying the government ends up paying interest on borrowed funds and it defeats the efforts of the government if the money is not used.