President Peter Mutharika has said Malawi “cannot afford another cashgate” adding the ability of the southern African nation to accelerate economic growth and uplift the lives of the majority of its citizens rests in frugal management of public finances and the physical assets of government.
Mutharika said this in Malawi’ capital Lilongwe when he launched the ‘Public Finance Management Reform Programme’ Friday.
He said unlike in the past, when Malawi’s civil servants were the envy of most countries for their dedication, efficiency, discipline and integrity, the same has dangerously flopped and situation is presently deplorable.
“It is sad that most people now take pride in the acquisition of personal material gains from their official positions, and no longer take the protection of public resources as an accomplishment of their duty towards society,” he said.
According to him, the tendency was responsible for ‘cashgate,’ Malawi’s mega fraud syndicate in history in which over US$ 100 million of government coffers is reportedly said to have mysteriously lost through unscrupulous means by public officers.
He said it “is mandatory that we should reform the public service and the finance management system.”
The internationally revered law scholar said as a country “we still have an excellent framework of financial laws, rules and regulations that follow well established international standards of public finance management.”
“Regrettably,” he said, “these laws, rules and regulations have been ignored progressively with impunity by politicians and the public servants, particularly those who are entrusted with managing resources.
“The result has been a persistent erosion of accountability of funds, and a lack of control of expenditures. More and more resources are lost through financial malfeasances and fraud, and budgets are never taken seriously.”
Mutharika announced that both senior and junior officers will have to undergo special training in managing financial technologies government is using including IFMIS at such government training institutes as Mpemba and Malawi Institute of Management (MIM).
He also said that government, through the public finance reform management programme, will have to redesign IFMIS so that “it can be comprehensive and can use a software that is customized to the Malawi conditions.”
According to Mutharika, the programme will make sure its objectives are achieved by rehabilitating the Public Finance Management System to ensure that is conducive to expenditure control, financial accountability and transparency and be able to generate financial reports that reflect actual management of financial resources.
Also, he said, the Central Internal Auditing service is being reformed and revitalized as a compliance tool of the government.
“We will introduce qualified internal auditors from the private firms in 10 large ministries to train official internal auditors and establish proper internal auditing practice. To avoid the likely personnel familiarization between the accounting staff and internal auditors, the latter will rotate every six months,” he said.
Malawi, whose 40 per cent of budgetary support is donor given, had its image badly tainted by fiscal infractions in 2013 for cashgate.
Most donors withdrew their budgetary support, forcing the country to resort to heavy taxation policies that impacted negatively on the citizenry.
Mutharika has emphasized on public service discipline to curb the same from re-happening. On Feb 11, 2015, he launched the Public Service Reform programme whose aim is to nurture public officers in making sure that there is an improvement in the delivery of services to the public.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :