Funding hitches have slowed down a planned audit exercise of Malawi’s foreign missions with the Auditor General’s (AG) office saying, so far, only three out of the 19 missions have been fully audited.
But the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has accused government of deliberately denying funding to the AG’s office to perform its duties as mandated by the Public Audit Act.
In an interview yesterday, Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa said his office has, so far, only managed to complete audits in New York, Washington DC and South Africa.
He said: “We carried out and completed the audit exercises in New York, Washington and South Africa and presented the findings to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [and International Cooperation].”
Kamphasa said he would have liked to carry out the exercise in all the embassies and high commissions, but funding was the obstacle.
He said the plan is to conduct the audits annually “but you know plans and actions sometimes differ depending on what is coming out, but of course we have just started a new financial year so we can’t say much”.
Mid this year, President Peter Mutharika directed that all 19 Malawi missions abroad should be audited following alleged mismanagement of funds in some embassies, including Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
Yesterday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation acting spokesperson John Kabaghe asked for a questionnaire which had not been responded to when we went to press.
But PAC vice-chairperson Kamlepo Kalua accused government of intentionally failing to provide funding to the National Audit Office (NAO), saying it was high time the country moved away from politics of anarchy to voice of reason.
“It is by design that government is not giving enough funds to the Auditor General’s office to carry out audits because they know all embassies are rotten,” claimed Kalua.
He said the developments were contrary to provisions in the Public Finance Management Act and also affects his committee because “we work hand in hand”.
But Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya last evening said Ministry of Finance was “ready to discuss the matter with the National Audit Office”. He could not elaborate on the issue as it was after business hours.
For several years, foreign missions have not been audited, a development that resulted in government losing about K300 million at the Malawi mission in Ethiopia.
The development resulted in the arrest of deputy ambassador Doreen Kapanga on allegations that she defrauded government.
Out of the 19 Malawi foreign missions, eight are in Africa, four in Europe, five in Asia in addition to the United Nations mission in New York, United States of America.