The National Audit Office (NAO) says it has concluded its audit of the K6.2 billion Covid-19 Response Fund and has since submitted the report to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) as well as Parliament.
In an interview yesterday, NAO spokesperson Rabson Kagwaminga said the report was finalised on Friday.
But he could not be drawn to comment if the 30-day period President Lazarus Chakwera prescribed for the audit was adequate, saying what is important is that NAO has completed the given assignment.
Kagwaminga said: “We have completed the audit and we have issued the report. We have also sent copies to the Minister of Finance, OPC and National Assembly.”
He said the findings will only be made public after the Minister of Finance presents it to Parliament. But he said the recipients can share as it was their report.
Parliament spokesperson Ian Mwenye confirmed in a separate interview yesterday that they received the report and forwarded the same to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
During a State House briefing yesterday, presidential press secretary Brian Banda referred all queries on the K6.2 billion audit to NAO.
On February 21 2021, the President directed that the audit be conducted to ascertain how Covid-19 response funds were utilised. He also ordered the interdiction of some heads of clusters to pave the way for the audit.
The audit covered expenditures made between September and December last year.
Two auditors from NAO confided in The Nation that
the 30-day time-frame for the investigative audit was unrealistic and wished the President had consulted the institution before making the directive.
The auditors indicated that as of Friday, the report had not yet been consolidated.
Further, the auditors said besides working under pressure to gather information from the 28 districts, funds were not readily available.
“You are talking of 28 districts councils, ministries and agencies. Even if we dedicated a day to each district that gives 28 days, what about planning, analysing data and compilation the report? This is just for councils so you can understand the pressure,” said one auditor.
Another auditor said the report submitted to the relevant offices is a high-level executive summary to give a picture and quell public pressure.
Meanwhile, the Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) says it is deeply concerned and surprised by the delay by the central government to release the report.
In an interview, Malga acting executive director Hadrod Mkandawire said the continued delay affects operations in councils where controlling officers remain on interdiction.
Few weeks ago, The Nation broke a story which detailed how huge funds meant for Covid-19 activities were spent on allowances and other logistical matters at the expense of equipment and other necessities that are lacking in public health facilities