Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has described the One Village One Product (Ovop) project a failure and potential fraud channel that has benefitted individuals more than the country.
Members raised their concerns yesterday in Lilongwe during a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism over the 2013/14 Auditor General’s Report.
During the meeting, ministry officials were asked to explain why K84.9 million worth of loans given out to cooperatives during the period under review cannot be recovered.
Zomba Central MP Patricia Kainga (People’s Party-PP) challenged the officials to come in the open and state that the project is not a success than painting a rosy picture that is contrary to the situation on the ground.
Blantyre West MP Peter Kumpalume said some potential beneficiaries from his area have not used the equipment given to them because it needed electricity which the area does not have.
In response to the audit queries, the ministry’s acting controlling officer, Elsie Tembo, said the loan recovery process is slow as most of the groups disbanded and others did not commence production due to several factors, including working capital.
However, the PAC team described her response that something was being done as lip-service because the picture on the ground was contrary.
In his reaction, committee chairperson Alekeni Menyani said his committee will push for the matter to be taken to another level where scrutiny of how the resources were disbursed and how the project faired is done.
However, Ovop national coordinator Kamiya Kaluluma Sulumba said some of the anomalies that happened such as taking equipment to places with no electricity was because they trusted the local authorities who identified the beneficiaries.
Ovop is a community-centred and demand driven regional economic development approach. n