Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) vice-chairperson Kamlepo Kalua told officials of Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs that they were lucky the committe has no powers to detain, they could have been nabbed following revelations of abuse of public funds for officers’ wrongful enrichment.
Kalua was chairing a review of audit queries of Malawi Government financial reports for 2014/15 , the first year of President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
He made the remarks after being stunned with observation that an officer in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs claimed seven nights allowance for travelling from Lilongwe to Kasungu to deliver mail.
“How can one spend seven nights from Lilongwe to Kasungu, just to deliver mail?” wondered Kalua.
“What sort of transport were they using to justify this? Are we serious that travelling from Lilongwe to Kasungu can take one week?
“This is not on. You are lucky we [PAC] don’t have powers to detain you, but this is sickening,” said Kalua.
Auditor General Stevenson Kamphasa agreed that the explanation on why an officer could spend a week delivering mail in Kasungu was not convincing.
This followed revelation of massive financial abuse, including “unreasonable” payment of subsistence allowance pegged at K2.5 million and failure to provide for activity reports for subsistence allowance amounted to K1.8 million.
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs director of administration George Masinga, who represented the ministry’s controlling officer, apologised to PAC , saying the payment for K2.4 million was not produced during the time of the audit “due to poor record keeping. ”
However, he said the ministry managed to trace the voucher and its supporting documents.
During the review, PAC observed missing payment vouchers wooth K2.4 million.
The audit reveals that Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs exceeded budget lines with K25.4 million.
There have been more revelations of plunder in public funds during scrutiny of the 2013/14 financial reports from the National Audit Office (NAO) and now PAC has started analysing expenditures for the 2014/15 financial year when President Mutharika and his DPP administration came to power.
The shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on the night of September 13 2013 is widely believed to have exposed revelations about the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill, widely known as Cashgate.
Former president Joyce Banda, who ascended to the presidency on April 7 2012 in line with constitutional order following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika, ordered a forensic audit which British firm RSM (formerly Baker Tilly) undertook covering a randomly chosen period of six months, between April and September 2013.
The RSM audit established that about K24 billion was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.
In 2015, a financial analysis report by audit and business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion in public funds could not be reconciled between 2009 and December 31 2014. The K577 billion figure was later revised downwards to K236 billion in another forensic audit.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :