Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is scheduled to investigate circumstances surrounding the loss of public funds at Malawi’s foreign mission in Nairobi, Kenya where an audit established that a firm was paid for work not done.
Committee chairperson Alekeni Menyani said in an interview yesterday that a team comprising five committee members, two officials from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and two members of Parliament secretariat will travel to Kenya to probe the matter further.
He said the inquiry will take four to five days.
Menyani said the committee has the support of Chief Secretary to the Government following an agreement of further engagement between the Executive and the Legislature as the oversight body.
In justifying the trip, Menyani said an investigation by his committee could help to bring to book those who participated in the loss of public funds.
He said: “OPC has helped the committee to trace these companies and so far, there is willingness to explain themselves. We want to marry what they will explain and what we have learnt this side and see where the gap is and how all this money could be lost like that.”
The committee wants to investigate how the firm was engaged instead of another one that was carrying out the works at the Malawi Chancery in Nairobi, said Menyani.
He added: “The price tag of engaging Kairu Mbuthia was four to five times more than the previous one, but there was no indication on why they did not engage someone competent within affordable ranges.”
The audit found that a Kenyan law firm, Kairu Mbuthia and Kiingati Advocates, was engaged to oversee rehabilitation of Malawi Government property in Nairobi for the sum of $500 000 (about K367 million).
But the Auditor General’s report for the year ending June 30 2013 found that money was spent without supporting documents at the chancery.
Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Isaac Munlo had said there was an anomaly in the way the ministry procured the services of the Kenyan law firm.
In September last year, the committee learnt that Kairu Mbuthia and Associates was contracted for the sum of $2 023.81 per month while the previous firm was engaged at $892.86 monthly.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was also asked to explain why Kairu Mbuthia allowed Memu General Building, a lone bidder, to raise invoices of repairs to the official residence of the ambassador amounting to $16 838 without the issuance of completion certificates.
The company also rehabilitated the chancery at a cost of $197 892 when similar rehabilitation works years later by another firm cost $12 000.
Commenting on the audit observations, Menyani said: “As if that was not enough, Kairu Mbuthia engaged another contractor to do repairs at the chancery, but no repairs were done.
“The auditors found invoices paid for the fixing of the damage on the ground; we have been told this was not fixed.”
The committee will also probe events surrounding the deal to install a new lift in the control tower at Kamuzu International Airport, which a Kenyan firm did not carry out, but it was paid $48 000 (about K36 million).