Ministry adopts compliance unit to check abuse

 

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development says it is using a Compliance Unit in a bid to minimise and avoid cases of mismanagement of public resources.

The ministry’s chief director Bright Kumwembe said this in Lilongwe yesterday when he led a team from his ministry to a meeting with Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to respond to audit queries for the financial year ended June 30 2013.

He said: “Since [revelations of] Cashgate started [in 2013], we have resorted to have a compliance unit which will closely look at how codes are being entered and we would like to address the challenge. We have officers who cross-check the entries and see to it that right numbers are being entered correctly.”

Kumwembe: We are addressing it

In an interview after the meeting, Kumwembe said some of the queries in the National Audit office (NAO) report resulted from wrong insertion of accounting codes by officers, a situation that led to misallocation of millions of kwacha.

When asked to explain why about K100.5 million was charged to the wrong expenditure account without seeking authority from the Treasury, Kumwembe told the committee the figure was arrived at because the resources were thinly spread across sub-items not approved in the budget.

However, he said only K2.3 million from the K100.5 million was correct expenditure.

Kumwembe told the committee his ministry was still working on reconciling the remaining K98.2 million.

He said: “I wish to inform you that for the remaining amount of K98 208 977.71, my ministry is working on the journal transfer vouchers to be submitted to the Accountant General to collect the misallocation.”

Kumwembe said the compliance unit and pre-audit facilities were helping because the ministry is able to trace items wrongly recorded.

In his comments, committee chairperson Alekeni Menyani said his committee understands that some of the misallocated money went to other activities but procedures have to be followed.

“We understand that the money was not misallocated as a matter of theft, all we would like is for ministries to follow right procedures where necessary, seek guidance from the Treasury and make sure to follow the Public Finance Act which is clear on the same,” he said.

The committee has since requested Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development to bring further evidence and documentation to support the K98.2 million expenditure at a later date. n

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