Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has demanded information from State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) on how it managed K4.4 billion in proceeds from selling government maize.
PAC said there were no records that the money was deposited into the Malawi Government’s Account Number One and has threatened to report the corporation to the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Committee chairperson Alekeni Menyani said this in an interview after his committee had a whole day discussing the 2013/14 audit report with officials from Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development last week.
In the audit report, the Auditor General noted that about K4 billion realised from the sale of 55 530.448 tonnes of maize on behalf of Malawi Government was yet to be banked.
The report also noted that Admarc used an amount equivalent to that of the maize proceeds without seeking authority from the Ministry of Finance and that supporting documents or authorising documents were missing.
Said Menyani: “They [Admarc] have to tell us a particular account where the money was put and the answers they are giving us are not convincing. That is why this issue is not closed and as a committee we need to dig deeper in that and even involve ACB.
“They sold the maize on behalf of Malawi Government and realised K4.4 billion, but when they reconciled they realised that they have used K2.2 billion of that money that is without authority from government, paying overheads and etc. They don’t have documents to back their action and we need them to get us information.”
During the session, Admarc acting chief executive officer Margaret Roka Mauwa confirmed to the committee that the institution was unable to trace the money, but promised to trace the documentation.
She said: “It is indeed true that Admarc failed to trace K4.4 billion but we are working on retrieving it.”
On the other hand, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development acting director of extension services Grey Nyandule Phiri, who represented the ministry’s Principal Secretary Erica Maganga, told the committee that it was regrettable that to date documents proving authorisation to recycle the money that was realised from maize proceeds are missing.
He said: “I regret to inform you that the authority from government for Admarc to recycle the funds has been misplaced. The exercise of locating and retrieving the authority is still continuing. Once this is found, it shall be availed to the Auditor General for appropriate action.”
However, the responses from the two officers did not impress the committee members who feared plunder of the money. The members suspected foul play, especially considering the period that the said documents have been missing.
Mzimba North member of Parliament (MP) Agness Nyalonje (People’s Party-PP) said the development was worrisome as billions of kwacha went down the drain. She observed that the funds could have been used to build clinics and provide drugs in the country’s hospitals.
She said: “What picture are we painting? This is indeed sad.”
Menyani urged consistency in record keeping in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to keep track of public funds.
He observed that government records expire after seven years and that in the Admarc case, seven years is yet to pass.
Each financial year, government and Admarc sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the sale of maize as a social responsibility to the public where there is a provision that Admarc shall recover its overheard costs incurred in the performance of its obligations from the maize sale proceeds. n