Scores of directors of finance in selected councils across the country have faulted the National Audit Office (NAO) for “flouting procedures” in the manner it handled an audit into the K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds.
President Lazarus Chakwera had instituted an audit on Covid-19 funds across councils in the country, and a report by the Auditor General shows that only 14 councils are without a query and are not appearing in the report.
Among others, a senior government official, well-versed with standard public audit processes say an audit begins with an engagement letter from NAO to concerned ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and then an entry meeting is conducted before the audit starts.
According to them, after the audit an exit meeting is done and from an exit briefing they expect the client (MDAs) to provide comments on the observations made.
But some directors of finance in councils say that was not the case despite acting Auditor General Thomas Makiwa, who appeared before the Public Accounts Committee on Monday, saying all clusters were properly audited.
Ellen Kayira, chairperson of Local Government Finance Managers Network, noted that most of the faulted councils were not accorded a chance to respond to observations.
She alleged that councils that “do not appear in the report” were given an opportunity to respond to observations.
“These councils were given a management letter and had exit meetings after which they were cleared. Some of the procedures were not followed, especially what happens after an audit has been instituted. In most councils after the audit was executed, there were no exit meetings and those who were custodians of documents were not even given the right to be heard,” Kayira told Nation.
According to her, they have submitted their concern to the Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA) whose president, Wild Ndipo, insisted the councils “managed the Covid-19 funds better.”
Said Ndipo: “The suspected abused funds may be five percent which can be cleared if they [councils] are given a chance to explain.”
Meanwhile, all concerned councils and officials have been summoned to appear before PAC from next week and to explain to the Ministry of Finance within 14 days from Monday.
The committee’s letter reads in part: “You are hereby also asked to ensure that all officers mentioned in the report under your institution should accompany you to the hearing.
“In readiness for your appearance before the committee, you are requested to submit bound copies of your written responses to the audit query by Friday April 30, 2021”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :