The Auditor General (AG) has confirmed that Malawi’s foreign missions are undergoing audits which the office has not been able to do on an annual basis.
This follows revelations by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation that it has formulated an audit plan for its missions whose audit reports have not seen the light of day.
Two weeks ago, The Nation disclosed that about K3 trillion of government funds spent over the years has not been audited.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Principal Secretary Dalitso Kabambe said yesterday there were ongoing audits at the Brussels mission in Belgium and the mission in Germany.
“We are processing audits for New York, Harare, South Africa, Nairobi and Maputo. In the end all embassies will be audited as mandated by the Public Audit Act,” he said.
National Audit Office (NAO) has committed to audit five embassies a year, but due to lack of funds, only one embassy will be audited as soon as funds are made available.
“At this point it is important that we don’t disclose but the names will be provided at a later date. Taking into account our economic challenges, we know that it may not be feasible to visit every embassy every year,” NAO spokesperson Lawrence Chinkhunda said.
But he said where they are unable to carry out the audits, the Auditor General takes a risk assessment of the missions and work closely with the internal auditors in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“We assess whether we can place reliance on their work and adopt their findings where reliance has been assured,” Chinkhunda said.
As a result of going unaudited, the Ministry of Finance has not been able to know on time levels of over-expenditure in the missions’ budgets.
NAO would not disclose how far back the audit reports are ready for the missions, Chinkhunda said in 2015, the Auditor General audited missions in New York and Washington and over the years have audited our missions in German, Nairobi in Kenya, Harare in Zimbabwe, Lusaka in Zambia, Maputo in Mozambique and Pretoria and the Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa.
For example, the audit report for the 2008/09 and 2009/10 financial years for Mozambique, which was submitted to Parliament, found that about K20 million (about $29 000) was spent above the mentioned financial years.
In the same financial years, the auditors found that the High Commission in South Africa used K16 675 827 (about $24 000) which was realised from miscellaneous receipts such as property rents and sales of assets without Treasury approval.
The government has recently announced the recall of 82 diplomats from the country’s foreign missions and plans to reduce the number further by the end of June next year and the government will no longer be responsible for payment of house rentals and school fees.
There are 19 Malawi foreign missions of which eight are in Africa, four in Europe, five in Asia in addition to the United Nations mission in New York, United States of America. n