Malawi Parliament on Tuesday learnt that over K240 million (about $960 000) worth of fertiliser under the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) went missing or could not be accounted for between 2007 and 2011.
According to a latest audit report (for the year ended June 2011) presented in the House, about K1.2 billion worth of drugs also expired at the Central Medical Stores (CMS) due to the institutionâ€™s failure to distribute them to hospitals during the period under review.
Ironically, the drugs were expiring at a time hospitals experienced acute drug shortages. The fertiliser disappearance also occurred when there was general outcry over the shortage of the same across the country.
Reads the report: “It was observed that 7 940 [50kg bags] of fertiliser valued at K35 038 400 (about $142 000) missed on the way as they were being transferred from SFFRFM [the Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi] to various Admarc markets in Ntcheu and Lilongwe between October and November 2007.
“SFFRFM withdrew various types of fertiliser valued at K205 134 870 [about $821 000] from Admarc markets in Nkhata Bay, Chitipa, Mzimba, Rumphi and Karonga to unspecified destinations without any document to authenticate the withdrawal.
“Consequently, it was difficult to ascertain whether the farm inputs were legitimately withdrawn and were subsequently accounted for.”
On the drugs, the Auditor General Reckford Kampanjeâ€™s report says the K1.2 billion (about $4.8m) drugs were all boarded off at CMS because they expired.
“During the financial years ended June 2008/2009 and 2009/2010, drugs worth K476 866 930 .63 [about $1.9m] and K709 453 999 .40 [about $2.8m], respectively, were boarded off.
“This resulted in huge losses by government, a situation which could have been avoided if proper procurement procedures and established regulations were followed,” reads the report.
The House referred the report to its Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for scrutiny after it was tabled by Finance Minister Ken Lipenga.
Despite contributing to a success story of back-to-back years of surplus maize harvest, Fisp has been rocked by problems bordering on alleged corruption and theft. Other challenges include logistical issues such as poor or delayed distribution to beneficiaries.
â€”Malawi introduced Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) in the 2005/ 06 growing season to boost national food security.
â€”The introduction followed a severe food shortage in 2004/05 season that left five million people in dire need of food aid.
â€”In the past year, most public hospitals have reported lack of essential drugs; yet, ironically, some drugs have expired in warehouses.