The Parliamentary Committee on Health is itching to meet Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume and other senior officials from the ministry for explanation on the theft of K2.5 billion of donor money meant for HIV and Aids fight.
Chairperson of the committee, Juliana Lunguzi, described the revelation as worrying, especially coming at a time the health sector is struggling to provide satisfactory services largely due to lack of resources.
“We expect nothing, but a comprehensive report, from the minister, on what happened that such a huge sum of money should be stolen. Of course, we are not very surprised because government is refusing to institute measures that can deter corrupt practices,” said Lunguzi.
She challenged that as long as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is not given autonomy, public and civil servants shall continue stealing public resources believing that they will be barely interdicted and reinstated even before the conclusion of investigations into their cases.
“The only way out now is for Malawians to assume active citizenship and demand what is due to them. They should stop being spectators when funds are being stolen,” said Lunguzi.
An audit report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed that K2 520 272 421.62 was siphoned from the ministry’s accounts through various dubious means.
The report says the theft took place between 2013 and 2015.
Among others, the report indicates that K12 116 800 was issued through trans-positioning of designations with the intention to defraud; allowances amounting to K61 537 000 were given to non-deserving staff at the ministry; a total of K73 475 400 was given to individuals using unauthorised daily subsistence rates.
The report, which implicates directors of finance, human resources and HIV in the ministry, further names other professional and support staff who do not work in the ministry, but are suspected to have connived with members of the ministry to steal the money.
The stolen money was sourced from Centre for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States of America. n