Management shake-up looms at GMB

HARARE - A board and management shake-up is looming at State-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB), following recommendations from an audit conducted by the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee, it has emerged.

In a four-year audit report presented to Parliament last week, the committee recommended government to immediately change management 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 told the National Assembly on Thursday.

The legislator said government and GMB were expected to implement the committee’s recommendations within six months of the report being tabled.

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 revealed 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 finance director advised the committee that out of a total of $44 million owed to GMB, government had paid $36 million through offsetting GMB debts with creditors.

GMB however, preferred that Treasury disburses cash to the board and let it manage its cash requirements as it sees fit,” Mpariwa said, adding that the parastatal was grappling with salary arrears to a tune of $17 million.

The audit also unearthed that cash and bank balances were not tallying 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.

“In addition, the SAP bank clearing accounts had uncleared transactions amounting to $593 955,” Mpariwa said.

She said the committee had noted with concern that GMB continued to receive qualified opinions 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”.

“The ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development which oversees the operations of GMB is also turning a blind eye on audit findings,” she said.

She also said 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 $15 million 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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