Treasury says it has extended its audit exercise to 10 remaining district councils to examine how the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) was used in respective constituencies following revelations of abuse.
Initially, only 18 district councils were audited where it was revealed that about 20 members of Parliament (MPs) allegedly misappropriated the fund. However, a full report on the same is yet to be concluded, according to Treasury.
Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Davis Sado said in an interview yesterday the audit is now covering all the 28 district councils.
He said: “A report is being compiled and the process will be the same where we will give room to the councils to respond to the queries emanating from the findings.”
During the budget meeting of Parliament last June, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe told the National Assembly that an internal audit revealed that about 20 MPs—whose identities he did not disclose—abused about K80 million from the K3 billion allocated to 18 district councils.
The audit covered a sample of about K1 billion utilised by the councils in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years to assess the impact of the CDF.
In the wake of the findings, government formed a technical team to analyse the audit report on the fund before presenting its findings to the Auditor General.
Among others, the task force membership comprises various stakeholders, including the ministries of Finance, Local Government and Rural Development, Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Parliament and Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) and the Central Internal Audit Unit, which is conducting the audit.
But Sado said the report from the first 18 councils was almost through and they were waiting for the task force to formally submit it before it is forwarded to the office of the Auditor General who has the mandate of reviewing all the audits.
He said after finalising the report for the remaining 10 councils, a consolidated report for the two audits will be produced which will be made public.
Said Sado: “We are taking long to finalise the report because we want to come up with a consolidated report from the 18 councils which were audited first and then the remaining 10 since they are all dealing with CDF. And that explains why the first report is also not yet out.”
He indicated that Treasury would make an account of what transpired in various constituencies in terms of financial transactions but not “disclose the MPs’ names”.
Last year, Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya ordered the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, which provides oversight functions to government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), to liaise with the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, to probe the allegations and table a report in Parliament with names of the 20 MPs.
According to a 2015 Tilitonse Fund Report, local councils are facing numerous queries bordering on fraud and accountability of funds which had progressively increased from K3 billion in 2005/06 to K34.2 billion in 2015/16.
The report, titled Political Economy Analysis of Accountability for Resources and Results in Local Government Councils, followed a research conducted by Asiyatu Lorraine Chaweza, a professor in the department of political and administrative studies at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi.
The Tilitonse report revealed that there was limited production of financial reports and attention to audit reports, abuse of locally generated revenues and politicised intra-district allocation of development resources, among others. n