The National Audit Office (NAO) says Covid-19 has affected its audit exercise on government financial statements for the 2019/20 financial year.
NAO is supposed to submit a comprehensive audited report on the previous financial year by December 31 of every new financial year, according to the Public Finance Management Act.
While acknowledging that auditors are still doing the work, NAO acting auditor general Rex Chiluzi in an interview yesterday said Covid-19 has forced the government audit agency not to conduct an interim audit in good time as required by law.
He said the interim audit was supposed to be concluded before the actual financial audit begins, but the exercises are being executed concurrently to ensure compliance with the law which demands that an audited financial report be submitted by December 31.
“We are trying as much as possible to meet the deadline. Had it been that there was no Covid, we would have been done with the report by now. But this has affected us because we failed to conduct an interim audit,” said Chiluzi, who is yet to be confirmed by Parliament.
He said if NAO fails to submit the report by December 31, it will do so by January 31 2021 to ensure that the report submitted is of high quality and that controlling officers have enough time to respond to audit querries as required by the Public Finance Management Act.
By law, the Auditor General is required to give controlling officers 14 days to respond to any audit query raised for analysis.
But Parliamentary Public Accounts Committed (PAC) chairperson Shadreck Namalomba said in an interview yesterday that the Auditor General should write Parliament notifying it on any impending delay and its reasons.
He said: “They must copy with the Act. If they think they will fail to meet the deadline, let them explain in writing so that authorities should know reasons why they will delay. The AG should consult the Public Finance Management Act and find out what will happen if they don’t comply.”
NAO planned to audit 60 votes belonging to MDAs which benefited from the K1.7 trillion 2019/20 National Budget. It is also expected to audit five parastatal organisations which include Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi, Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation and Malawi Revenue Authority. PAC also directed that NAO should audit embassies, but according to Chiluzi, the exercise will be done after the Mid-Year Review of the 2020/21 Budget because the current budget does not have a provision for auditing embassies.