Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to probe Balaka District Council and other councils over allegations of fraud and suspected corruption during the 2008/09 and 2009/10 financial years.
PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani said in an interview on Wednesday the former district commissioner (DC) for Balaka had failed to give satisfactory responses to the questions posed to him on the council’s financial statements.
The council was responding to queries on the Auditor General’s report for 2008/09 and 2009/10 where he found that uncollected property rates amounting to K73.9 million ($131964) and K81.6 million ($145714) respectively were not substantiated by schedules of repayment.
The committee also asked the council if the K150 million ($267857) debt had since been collected.
But in his explanation, Balaka DC Rodrick Mateauma said after going through the financial records of the council, it was discovered that they made a mistake in posting the figures in the balance sheet.
He said the schedules for 2008/09 and 2009/10 financial years actually showed figures of K28.3 million ($50535) and K40.5 million ($72321).
“In this respect, we had adjusted our records to suit these figures. These records were submitted to the Auditor General for review,” he said.
But the committee described the figures as cooked up to pull the wool over the heads of the committee.
Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa also disowned the balance sheet which the DC produced to substantiate the claim to the bewilderment of officials from the National Local Government Committee (NLGFC).
Menyani said the former DC, who was controlling officer at the time, Hamisi Twabi, could not provide an adequate reason for blowing the figures on the debts from council rates, but told the committee he did not have the technical know-how and that the director of finance at the time would have explained better.
He said: “The committee, NLGFC and the Auditor General are not satisfied. This issue is beyond the committee and we will be writing ACB to probe what happened all those years because we sense an element of fraud.”
Menyani added that the experience with the council audits had shown that NLGFC was ineffective and part of the problem.
The two-week PAC meeting comes to an end this Friday with a large number of DCs turned back for failing to provide satisfactory responses to audit queries among them Karonga, Balaka, Thyolo and Lilongwe City Council.
The committee has been summoning former DCs to respond to queries.