The National Audit Office (NAO) last week embarked on headcount and payroll audits for all civil servants, in what is arguably one of the massive exercises under the Public Service Reforms.
The audit kicked-off following delays which NAO explained were brought about due to technical hitches in processing funds for the exercise.
In an interview with Weekend Nation last week, NAO spokesperson Lawrence Chinkhunda said the audit was proceeding smoothly and that officers on the ground were getting cooperation from stakeholders.
Chinkhunda said NAO plans to undertake the audit in four weeks and they expect to submit to relevant authorities their findings in accordance with provisions of the Public Audit Act 2003.
He said the objective of the audit is to ensure that all controls set up by management and those charged with governance are operating as prescribed.
“Our primary objective is to ensure that all human resources, management and payroll control procedures are operating effectively and as intended to root out any inconsistencies that may include ghost workers so as to achieve the economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the government wage bill,” said Chinkhunda.
He added: “If, in the course of our audit, we discover any malpractice, including ghost workers, our duty is to report to relevant authorities, including the Office of the President and Cabinet, for a decisive action to remove them and take necessary corrective measures on the deficiencies.”
He pointed out that those found responsible for the malpractices shall be dealt with accordingly in line with laid down procedures, laws and regulations.
Said Chinkhunda: “Elements of fraud and corruption will be reported to relevant law enforcement agencies for their appropriate action, including prosecution, should responsible controlling officers fail to do so.”
He further said NAO last conducted such an audit in 2008, but has been unable to have one in the intervening years due to financial constraints.
“You may wish to note that perpetrators of financial mischief always think of devising new methods of defeating the system to bring in ghost workers. As such, these audits are carried out at intervals of between three and five years,” he said.
In his speech at the opening of the 46th Session of Parliament early this month, President Peter Mutharika observed that the headcount audit was one way of eliminating ghost workers who are inflating government’s wage bill. n