The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has defied the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament’s order to submit a report on all allowances its members unduly pocketed.
In an interview yesterday, PAC chairperson Shadreck Namalomba said the task force failed to submitted the report by the June 30 2021 deadline.
In May this year, PAC gave the task force 45 days to calculate accommodation and fuel allowances its members, including Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa, unduly received.
Nankhumwa, for example, was allegedly getting the allowances as if he comes from outside Lilongwe—where most of the meetings were taking place—when he lives in the city and uses a vehicle serviced by government.
Namalomba said PAC would summon the task force members to explain why they have not complied with its order.
He said: “They have not filed the report and yet the 45 days are over. Please ask them on our behalf and on behalf of Malawians. It is a total disregard of the rule of law by the Executive. As PAC, we will subpoena them to appear before the committee.”
Initially, PAC summoned the task force to establish how they managed the K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds and gave it seven days to recover the funds. However, the task force asked for more time, hence; the 45-day extension.
Namalomba said the committee wants the task force to list down all the members who were pocketing allowances without any justification.
“We expected the report to also include financial records of the previous task force members. This is not only about the Leader of Opposition, but all task force members who benefitted when they did not deserve. That money must be paid back to Malawians,” he said.
But in a separate interview yesterday, task force co-chairperson Wilfred Chalamira Nkhoma said they submitted the report on Friday, 10 days after the deadline.
“Check with the Parliament desk. It was delivered yesterday [Friday]. I went there myself. The chair may not have received it, but it was delivered,” he said.
Meanwhile, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency executive director Willy Kambwandira has said by dilly-dallying on the matter, the task force shows lack of commitment to protecting Covid-19 funds.
In an interview yesterday, he called on the Public Accounts Committee to take decisive action on the matter and report to Malawians.
Said Kambwandira: “The task force should realise that this was not their money. It is taxpayers’ money and Malawians have the rights to know how their money was used.”
In the K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds audit report released in April this year, the National Audit Office recommended that government should recover money that was unduly paid to officials.
The report highlighted allowance-related irregularities totalling over K80 million, including K29.1 million payment of ‘risk allowance’ and K17.7 million overpayment of subsistence and lunch allowances.