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Govt urged to speed up Micro Projects legislation 

By Ntombi Mhlongo

To make the entity’s operations effective, the government has been urged to speed up the process of enacting legislation that will guide the operations of the Micro Projects Coordinating Unit (MPCU).

The unit falls under the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development and focuses on the implementation of infrastructure projects to enable access to social services by local communities.

The need to have the unit properly legislated comes after findings by the Auditor General, Timothy Matsebula to the effect that there was an unclear indistinct establishment, status, and mandate of the Micro Projects Programme in the government structure. 

In his report, the AG recounted that the programme, initially established by the European Union, was later handed over to the Government, who, however, did not set out clear guidelines on the establishment, status, and mandate of the programme. 

“The continued uncertainty on the status and mandate of the Micro Projects Coordinating Unit has caused and still causes confusion and misconception in the overall operations of the unit. It has also caused the non-enforcement of government rules and regulations,” the AG said in his report. 

In the report, it is contained that the ministry has drafted the legislation which will guide the operations of the unit. The draft, the report said, is currently being reviewed by the Office of the Attorney General (AG).

Following the findings by the AG, the Public Accounts Committee has recommended that the ministry should ensure that a bill for the legislation is tabled together with the proposed name change of the organisation.

Also, the PAC has recommended that the Controlling Officer at the ministry, that being the Principal Secretary, should submit a report on the current status of the unit and how they are currently handling the anomalies identified by the AG pending the enactment of the law establishing the Micro Projects Unit.

In the report, the AG noted some inconsistencies in the operations of MPCU and other government ministries and departments. They include the fact that while the release of government ministries’ budgets (not
cash) is done quarterly to the ministries or departments through the government accounting system, and funds for the MPCU (actual cash) are released to the unit’s bank account at the Central Bank of Eswatini.

Another inconsistency is that payments for the government ministries are processed through the government accounting system which is not the case for the MPCU. Another anomaly is that while all ministries and departments are governed by general orders and circulars and are always required to adhere to them, it is not the case with the MPCU as the general orders and circulars are selectively applied.

Also included in the anomalies is that while there is no medical aid at the ministries, 100 per cent of the same benefit is paid by the MPCU to staff.

As if that is not enough, the AG reported that when it comes to vehicles for government ministries, they are procured, maintained, fuelled, and serviced by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport while the MPCU has its own fleet procured, maintained, fuelled and serviced by private garages.

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