An audit into operations of US Peace Corps programme in Malawi has faulted the sale of three 2007 model Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles at the total price of K10.5 million (about $26 250), saying the vehicles were sold at cheap prices without an open and fair tender.
According to a letter on the audit dated February 27 2013 from US Peace Corps Inspector General Kathy Buller, the vehicles were sold without adequate oversight which she says led to their disposal at less than the maximum possible prices.
“The post [Peace Corps Office in Malawi] engaged a third party auctioneer to dispose of three vehicles and other excess property items such as used furniture and computers. During our review of the post’s property management practices, we found that the post management did not comply with the agency guidance or provide adequate oversight and transparency over disposal of vehicles and property.
“We identified three vehicles with questionable sale prices, which we reported to the OIG [Office of Inspector General] Investigations Unit. The post did not enforce separation of duties in property management and permitted the GSO [General Services Officer] to carry out vehicle auctions without adequate oversight,” reads in part Buller’s letter.
The letter says the three Land Cruisers, with registrations CD 112, CD 113 and CD 115, were sold at K3 million (about $7 500), K3.7 million (about $9 250) and K3.8 million (about $9 500), respectively, against “false” highest bids of K3.5 million (about $8 750) for the first vehicle and K5 million (about $12 500) for each of the other two vehicles.
She says Peace Corps vehicle fleet management guidelines requires that vehicles must be sold at fair and reasonable in-country prices, adding proceeds from sale of the vehicles are a significant resource to the agency as they are used to fund vehicle replacements.
Her audit also revealed lack of segregated duties, adequate controls and oversight in the process of collecting host country contribution (HCC) payments from Malawi Government ministries, which she says resulted in an ineffective process that caused two HCC payments to go uncollected.
In his response dated January 31 2013, US Peace Corps Africa region director Dick Day accepted all the 14 audit queries, saying his office has addressed some of them and is continuing to work with the Malawi office to deal with the remaining queries.
Day said Peace Corps office in Malawi has recently revised its guidelines on property auctioning steps and procedures, adding they are following up with the Ministry of Education to get replacement cheques for the uncollected HCC payments.