LILONGWE (MalawiTalk)- Damning, painful and shocking details have emerged on how public officers mercilessly looted K6.2 billion which treasury released in August 2020 to help fight against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
As people were dying in their hundreds in hospitals and homes, the money that tax-payers paid to save them didn’t end up as planned as over K1 billion was lost to manufactured irregular expenditure flaw, deliberate wrongs meant to siphon the cash from public coffers.
According to the Covid-19 funds report by the National Audit Office (NAO), public officers in all clusters stole the money through procurement flaws and inflating allowances for subsistence and fuel.
For instance, reads the report, expenditure on procurements flaws amounted to K500 million.
“Out of this, K321 578 996 related to us RFQs instead of open tendering methods, K105 995 500 related to irregular procurements, K48 582 220 related to use of single sourcing procurement method, K7 559 016 related to failure to produce original bid documents and K10 191 500 related to failure to procurement at inflated prices,” reads the report.
The 59-page report also delved on how allowance systems was used to steal a large chunk of the money meant for COVID-19 fight.
“Allowances related irregularities to K80 277 500. Out of this K29 158 000 related to irregular payments of risk allowance, K17 742 000 related to over-payment of subsistence and lunch allowance, K12 m related to payment of allowance using incomplete documentation, K5 m related to ineligible expenditure on duty allowance, K9 391 000 related to payment of allowances within duty station, K3M to payments of allowances to ghost workers while the rest related to some of other irregularities,” reads the report.
The report further uncovers a problem in accounting for cash withdrawn amounting to K83 056 539.
“Out of this amount, K53m was not liquidated, K12m went without trace, K989 500 excess cash on activity with justification,” reads the report.
Another avenue of stealing the funds was on expenditure on fuel related accountability amounting to K39 786 585.
“Out of this, K20 090 401 related to fuel which was not liquidated, K7M to missing fuel while the rest related to general fuel accountability flaws,” says the report.
The audit report, which President Dr Lazarus Chakwera ordered, also reveals that an amount of K23 million, which was unbudgeted for, was wastefully and dubiously spent. Further, the report says funding to local authorities was made without basis and budget.
However, at the time of audit, t it is alleged that K1 billion had not been spent by clusters.
The recommendations of the audit report says the public officers who abused the funds should pay back and that there should be prosecution of officers whose use of a the funds seems criminal in nature.
President Chakwera has a test of his HI-5 pillars of rule of law to ensure that anyone who abused the money – including his political patronage – should face the long arm of the law.
The report is yet to be officially released to the public.