Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members of Parliament (MPs) in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament yesterday trashed an audit report commissioned during the Bingu wa Mutharika regime.
The investigative report of the Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis) covering the period 2009 and part of 2012 exposed the disappearance of over K92 billion (US$226 044 226) through the central payment system.
At a PAC hearing yesterday, the DPP MPs said the report was not credible because it did not contain names of perpetrators.
Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa yesterday tabled the report, which the DPP regime had kept under wraps until The Nation exposed it in October 2013.
The report detailed how the money was allegedly lost or mismanaged through seven irregularities involving specific financial transactions.
The seven irregularities are: (1) payments that the National Audit Office (NAO) suspects were done “deliberately”—not for emergency reasons or technical faults as some officers claimed—outside Ifmis; (2) those without vouchers (3); those not supported with liquidation documents (4); payments made to banks without details of beneficiaries; (5) payments for purchases without Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) authority; (6) payments to suppliers for goods without evidence of delivery and (7) payments for fuel without evidence of delivery.
The Ministry of Finance commissioned the audit after suspecting fraud in Ifmis, according to the background note in the report.
The report found that payments amounting to K12 billion were made outside Ifmis.
The probe coincided with the discovery in late 2011 of K400 million (US$982800.98) in a bank account belonging to a civil servant working for the Accountant General’s Department (AGD).
However, the DPP administration systematically discontinued the exercise before 14 more government departments/ministries were probed, suggesting that the plundered K92 billion could be small change compared to what may be the loss if the agencies that escaped the probe were factored in.
But committee member George Chaponda, who served as minister in the period under scrutiny, described the report as concocted because it did not contain full verified details of who stole and misused money belonging to government.
“This one is a concocted story. I was Minister of Education and Minister of Justice, if I stole money, just say it,” Chaponda said.
Henry Mussa, who also served as minister during the period under scrutiny, said the report was not yet conclusive and the information contained has not been verified two years after it was submitted to the office which commissioned the audit.
He claimed it was not possible for K92 billion to go missing from government coffers without the national budget and delivery of services being affected.
But Kamphasa explained that NAO failed to complete the audit, conducted between March and June 2012, because it did not receive the expected attention from the office which commissioned it, the Ministry of Finance.
He said it was possible to siphon K92 billion from the budget, especially over a period of three years as covered in the audit.
“The report was to Treasury for the attention of the budget director, but we were told they were not ready. But after revelations of Cashgate, we were asked to resubmit the report and they were able to say this has been there,” Kamphasa said.
The Auditor General further disclosed that the NAO had resumed—starting with the Malawi Police Service and they would move to the other ministries and government departments with financial support from Department for International Development (DfID) and possibly GiZ of the German government.