Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has blamed political appointees in various government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as main culprits in major financial mismanagement reports.
PAC vice-chairperson Kamlepo Kalua made the assertion at Parliament Building in Lilongwe yesterday when officials from the Office of the Vice-President appeared before the committee to answer audit queries for the financial year ended June 30 2013.
In an interview after the meeting, Kalua said political appointments to high offices should be minimised because this has crippled the whole civil service.
He said controlling officers in government institutions appointed due to political connections often resort to mismanagement and political appeasement in the award of contracts, a development that negatively affects productivity of the civil service and contributes to public resources plunder.
Said Kalua: “There is a lot of laxity in the way [politically connected] controlling officers handle their duties. They have a certain attitude because of the way they were appointed. So, if this trend can be minimised, only then can sanity be brought back to the civil service.”
His comments came as the public finance oversight committee continues to interrogate MDAs on audit queries contained in the National Audit Office (NAO) reports.
During yesterday’s meeting, Office of the Vice-President Principal Secretary Clement Chinthu Phiri struggled to convince committee members on why there was a misallocation of K108 million to wrong expenditure codes without seeking authority from the Treasury.
There was also a query for overpayment to individuals and organisations believed to have been given contracts without signing any contract documents. The query also highlighted payment of allowances to wrong parties totalling K9 265 623.56 which is yet to be recovered and the officers paid have not been brought to book.
In response to Kalua’s take that such anomalies could easily have been avoided, Chinthu Phiri justified the expenditure, but the response left members of Parliament (MPs) not impressed.
Some lawmakers said it was wrong for Chinthu Phiri to justify the expenditure and the best he could do was to admit wrongdoing.
Mwanza Central MP Davis Katsonga told Chinthu Phiri to avoid justifying the expenditure because an office of the status of the Office of the Vice-President cannot make expenditures without planning.
After a heated debate, Chinthu Phiri apologised to the members and admitted that an anomaly was made.
PAC has since asked the officials to prepare further responses regarding the queries, including details of an account for fuel which was not recorded in the fuel register amounting to K7.2 million and stores items not accounted for amounting to K8.3 million. n