Malawians will have to wait a little longer for the identities of 20 MPs who abused Constituency Development Fund (CDF) because the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) is yet to start the investigations.
Speaker Richard Msowoya in November ordered PAC, which provides oversight functions to government
ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), to team up with Ministry of Finance and Auditor General to probe the allegations and table a report with names before the House rises.
PAC chairperson, Alekeni Menyani, said in an interview on Wednesday that his committee was still waiting for an audit report from the Ministry of Finance.
However, in an interview on Thursday, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said the report prepared by the Central Internal Audit Unit was already shared with Parliament as instructed by the Speaker.
Menyani challenged the Finance Minister to produce evidence that the National Assembly was given the report, insisting that his committee could not conduct the investigation without it.
“If he is being honest, he should just have forwarded the report to PAC. We want the minister to table the report before the House as demanded by parliamentary procedures,” he said.
The audit covered a sample of about K1 billion utilised by the councils in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years to establish whether CDF was used for intended purposes, according to the Auditor General.
In an earlier interview Menyani exonerated his fellow legislators arguing that MPs do not control finances at the district level.
During the budget meeting in June Gondwe said that an internal audit revealed that at least 20 MPs whom he did not mention, abused about K80 million from the K3billion allocated to 16 district councils.
He told the House: “In some cases, the goods and materials were procured from suppliers that were related to the honourable members of Parliament.
In addition, many projects were initiated by the honourable members of Parliament only without the involvement of their area development committees.”
The MPs had asked for a CDF hike from K18 million to K30 million, but Gondwe said it would only be increased to K23 million.
Although it is on record that MPs have hijacked CDF, Menyani still blamed district commissioners for being responsible for the money that is missing from government accounts, saying they are the ones that have a case to answer.
Meanwhile, a government task force formed to analyse the audit report on CDF and others relating to Local Development Fund (LDF) is said to have finalised its work and will present its findings on December 21, according to National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) executive director Stanley Chuthi.
The task force comprises members from NLGFC, LDF, Central Internal Audit Unit, Parliament, Ministry of Justice and Malawi Local Government Association (Malga), among others. n