The civil society leaders are calling for swift action in form of comprehensive forensic audit into payments amounting to K577 billion (US$1.3 billion) that are shown in bank statements, but cannot be traced in Capital Hill’s cashbook, according to preliminary findings by Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
PwC examination of public finances from January 1 2009 to December 31 2014 – initially assumed to be the ‘K92 billion (US$204.4 million) – has found crime liaisons that officials have used since 2005, called Integrated Finance Management Information System (IFIMS).
The data analysis that has culminated into a 52-page report titled ‘Final Analysis Report: Reconstruction of the Malawi Government Cashbook for Purposes of Further Investigation’ has shown K577 billion (US$1.3 billion) were abused.
The submission came amid accusations that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration wanted to downplay the report ostensibly because part of the potential mismanagement may have happened under their watch with the late Bingu wa Mutharika as president.
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya told Nyasa Times on Wednesday that the preliminary findings by Pricewaterhouse Coopers in tracing the origins of cashgate makes very dim reading.
“To not only have K577 billion not accounted for is not only incredulous but a great betrayal of Government’s commitment to serve the citizens of this Malawi,” Mayaya told Nyasa Times.
“As civil society, we demand a comprehensive forensic audit to follow without delay,” he said.
“We also insist that the President, Minister of Finance and the Auditor be summoned to parliament to answer questions pertaining to this issue,” added Mayaya.
Specifically, Mayaya said, the Public Accounts Committee must go further to probe the rot of financial mismanagement that not only extends to the Ministries but districts assemblies as well as the highest echelons of government.
“As civil society we will not allow the government impede investigations by hiding the names of people implicated. In 2012 they were at the forefront demanding accountability from the Joyce Banda administration now that the axe is raised above their heads, they want to stall the process. We will not let that happen on our watch. Enough is enough,” Mayaya declared.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said the forensic audit could take as long as 10 months.
To arrive at the unaccounted for K577 billion, PwC says it analysed 1 788 295 bank statement payments between January 1 2009 and December 31 2014 and matched this against the total number of payment entries on the cashbook, which were found to be 1 007 075. Thus, 781 220 transactions were not accounted for in the Cashbook.
The report also says a total of 116,252 payments above MK 1 million were identified within the Cashbook, totalling MK 1,128,338,102,110.40 for the period 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2014 with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development having the highest amounts of payments missing from the cashbook in 2009.While ministries of Lands and Local Government and Rural Development were also major culprits.
The investigation was commissioned to the tune of K125 million financed by the Germany government.
PwC continued from where British auditor Baker Tilly, who uncovered traces of cashgate, left.
‘Cashgate’ denotes the systematic skimming of millions of dollars of money from the government payment system.
Following the Cashgate revelations, donors withdrew aid and Malawi has been operating on a zero-aid budget, a situation that has caused misery to Malawians economically.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :