Employees of the troubled Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) have been told they will not be paid this month’s salaries because of lack of funds. The announcement follows barely a month after BEC Executive Secretary Professor Brian Mokopakgosi bared before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises the challenges his organisation is facing.
An email communicated to all staff members seen by BG News states that consultation process is still ongoing with the Ministry of Education to sort out the problem. “Colleagues, Compliments of the Season. We regret to inform you that after due consultations, payment of the January 2017 salaries has been postponed due to lack of funds in BEC accounts. We are currently continuing with the dialogue we started with the Ministry last year with the hope that funds will be made available before the end of the month preferably during the third week. We apologise for the inconvenience more especially that we should be starting the year in high spirits,” reads the email sent to staff members titled; Payment of January 2017 Salaries.
The devastating news was communicated to staff members this week.
“To tell you the truth things have not been going well in this organisation since last year. I am not surprised by this communication from management because we have been getting our salaries late. This is worrisome considering the fact that there are lots of millions spent carelessly in some departments and parastatals while we are suffering. How do they expect us to bring good results in work while our staff morale is low?” asked one employee who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation.
Towards the end of Parliament session last month, the Ministry of Education requested money amounting to P1billion. This is despite the Ministry of Education and Skills Development getting the largest share of the Ministerial Recurrent Budget for 2016/2017 financial year. The Ministry of Education budget was P10.64 billion.
The Chairman of the Committee, Guma Moyo was not impressed by Professor Mokopakgosi’s presentation. He said the audit report presented to them was very ‘thin and shallow.’ The outspoken Moyo said at the time, “Things are not right in your organisation. This is not right. I do not know where to start. Did you discuss the report before you came here?” In response Prof. Mokopakgosi said, “We want to reveal the whole truth about the organisation. We do not want to hide anything.” He also said the famous back-to school programme that was introduced by President Ian Khama in 2012 is owing them money amounting to P15 million.
“We were told to let students register and the government will pay us but up to date nothing has been done,” he said adding that consultations are currently ongoing to settle the debt.The audit report exposed irregularities such as delays in finalising tendering process, overpaid examiners, overpaid staff advances and lack of the cost recovery policy at the troubled organisation. “Bank reconciliations backlogs are the biggest exposure to fraud, particularly during the examinations payments period where voluminous transactions are paid out leaving accounts exposed to errors and fraud.
Errors and long outstanding items on the bank reconciliation statements would remain undetected,” states the report.Acting Corporate Communications Manager at BEC, Charles Keikotlhae said this week when reached for comment regarding payment of the January 2017 salaries that he could only send the same email correspondence to BEC staff that we already had.However, a correspondence from one Jenamiso Nthele purporting to clarify the earlier email assured staff members that salaries will be paid on or before 23 January.