Treasury is yet to release other recurrent transactions (ORT) funding for the country’s 28 district councils for December 2015, it has been established.
Three district commissioners (DCs) we spoke to on Monday corroborated in separate interviews that they are yet to get the funding which is normally released mid-month after the councils submit expenditure reports for the previous month.
Ministry of Finance spokesperson Nations Msowoya yesterday blamed the DCs for the predicament, accusing them of failing to remit expenditure returns to facilitate disbursement of the funds.
Mwanza DC Gift Rapozo said his council’s operations have drastically been affected by the lack of ORT as it cannot provide essential services to communities.
He mentioned agriculture, education, irrigation, community welfare and social services as the most affected sectors.
Said Rapozo: “Currently, health is the only sector that has received funding. All other sectors are still waiting for their allocations; and, this has negatively affected delivery of services to the communities we serve.”
Lilongwe DC Charles Makanga said the situation is equally dire in his district as the council cannot “meet the people’s expectations” without corresponding finances.
He said Lilongwe District Council has since shelved some activities, including those critical to the well-being of both the council and the population it serves.
“It is obvious that we cannot do anything in the absence of funding. We have temporarily shelved everything that requires finances,” said Makanga.
An official at M’mbelwa District Council in Mzimba, who asked for anonymity, did not hide his disappointment over the lack of funding.
Said the official: “We are failing to do anything. And one tends to wonder what we are doing in offices. The problem is that most people do not understand when we tell them there is no funding.”
But Msowoya said the situation in the councils has been created by the controlling officers.
He said: “If they [councils] are not getting funding, it means they have not submitted their monthly reports [expenditure returns]. Treasury does not release funds in the absence of expenditure returns. To date, we have not seen any, hence our failure to release the funds.”
But Rapozo and Makanga contradicted this, saying they submitted theirs before December 14 2015. They also claimed to have submitted the January expenditure returns by last week.
However, Msowoya insisted Treasury has received no single expenditure report from district councils.
He said: “I can confirm to you that there is no expenditure return here. In this regard, we cannot release funds.”
Msowoya dismissed suggestions that cashflow could be the cause for the delayed disbursement of funds.
This year, government is struggling to provide funding to the maximum level to departments and ministries due to lack of funds worsened by low revenues collected by public tax collector Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and donors’ continued withholding of their 40 percent contribution to the recurrent budget.
Several sectors, including health, have been negatively affected by funding owes.
Donors withheld $150 million in budgetary support in September 2013 amid concerns of Cashgate, the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
Donors demanded strengthening of public finance management system as one the areas to be tackled if Malawi is to regain their confidence.