Millions of public money is going down the drain in bogus vehicle maintenance of unserviceable and uneconomic vehicles by various ministries and departments in what some sources at Capital Hill has described as another form of “Cashgate” which is benefitting officers on one hand and dubious private garages on the other while ripping off the taxpayer.
An investigation by Nyasa Times has unravelled this malpractice to be common in almost all government ministries and departments especially those who own large fleets of vehicles like Health and Education ministries.
Random visits to various private garages in Biwi Triangle, Malangalanga, Kawale and other place in the Capital Lilongwe revealed that a lot of government vehicles have been lying idle in these garages for very long periods of time which makes it possible for these to be used as a conduit of siphoning taxpayers money.
This development also comes hot on the heels of the recent order by Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) who have directed that PVHO should constitute a Board of Survey for all government plant and vehicles which is aimed at boarding off all outmoded vehicles which are uneconomic to run thereby causing a drain on public resources.
Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya confessed that this revelation may not be far from the truth because the budget line that incorporate vehicles maintenance is difficult to manage by its very nature.
According to Nyasa Times sources at Capital Hill said most government ministries send vehicles and plants in private garages like Biwi Triangle, Malangalanga, Kawale and other places where on paper they go for routine maintenance when in actual sense this is used as a means of siphoning government money.
“Government officers connive with these unscrupulous private garage owners to inflate invoices which government ministries duly honour these bills. But in actual sense some of these vehicles are either lying idle at Capital Hill or in these garages and no service never took place. This is just another form of ‘Cashgate’, “our source said in an interview.
The source said government is losing huge sums of money in this manner amounting to millions each and every month especially in ministries who have large fleets of vehicles like Health, Education, and Public Works.
Treasury spokesperson admitted this is very possible because of the way Treasury funds maintenance of vehicles budget line.
“You may wish to know that the budget line that incorporates vehicle maintenance in the budget document is called Travel budget. This includes hotel charges for officers travelling outside their duty station, subsistence allowances, fuel and lubricants and the vehicle maintenance itself. Such being the case it is difficult to quantify how much money goes into vehicle maintenance specifically,” said Msowoya.
He further confessed that it is a difficult budget line to manage as such the allegations being made may be true because as Treasury they have for a long time noticed that vehicle maintenance bills in most ministries are alarming and amounts to millions of Kwacha every month.
Said Msowoya:”If you remember during the reign of President Bingu wa Mutharika government made a decision that all government vehicles should be maintained at PVHO as a means of managing this elusive budget line. However, this never really materialised. That why private garages are still used today. You may also wish to know that dealers like Toyota Malawi, CFAO and other dealers their bills are also on the higher side.”
However, officials say the procedure for maintaining government vehicles is that they should go to PVHO for inspection who will in turn recommend that indeed they should go for maintenance and they are given a go ahead.
It is also a requirement that when they return from maintenance they should also go back to PVHO for re-inspection to verify whether indeed they have been serviced and maintained properly but this is ignored by ministries because they are afraid that this malpractice will be discovered.
The source further revealed that on the order by OPC, some few ministries are complying while most are resisting for fear of being discovered on how they have been siphoning public resources.
“With the current status quo Public Service Reform will remain just an illusion to be pursued but never attained. PVHO has been reduced to a dormant and dumping yard for unproductive personnel there is not work to do. Suffice to say that the order by OPC will give some work to PVHO in removing all government vehicles which are being used as a conduit of siphoning public resources,” said our Capital Hill source.
He further said once PVHO finishes inspecting and getting rid of all these out and uneconomic plant and vehicles which will in turn be auctioned, government may realise about K200million which may go a long way to help boost government revenue in the wake of the “zero aid budget’.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :