The interaction between Parliament’s Public Accounts Committeee (PAC) and Ministry of Health (MoH) officials ended prematurely yesterday after the committee expressed reservations with a sentiment by the ministry’s controlling officer.
The committee sent back the MoH team for a “fact finding mission” following MoH Principal Secretary Dr. Dan Namarika’s statement that the Auditor General does not follow the right procedure when giving out information on audits carried out in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
He said he first sees the audit findings in the media.
Said Namarika: “We only find out about the reports when they are already in the newspapers. I am surprised that you [the committee] have the reports up to 2016 while our office only has the reports ending 2015. The [audit] reports are not given to us and I feel that the proper channel to divulge that information is not followed.”
However, Namarika’s response was apparently not well received by the committee with chairperson Alekeni Menyani asking the controlling officer to withdraw his statement and check with his officials as he was new in office; hence, could be a victim of officers hiding documents from him.
Menyani asked Namarika and his team to reorganise themselves and get the information needed by the committee as they know that the committee was aware that the Auditor General followed all the required procedures before taking the information to the committee.
He said: “I demand that you withdraw the assertions that the Auditor General is releasing information without following the right procedure. That is a very serious allegation.
“We cannot be in a position to continue talking with you when you do not have other information and embarrass the Auditor General that he doesn’t follow procedures.”
Namarika expressed his sentiments after committee members’ follow-up questions to an explanation on payment of subsistence allowances to employees who worked within their duty station at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) amounting to K3.1 million for the financial year ended 2013.
His response revealed that in the subsequent audit queries for the following years the amount has risen and at KCH alone over K600 million is unaccounted for. In total, the whole MoH is yet to account for K1 billion during the financial year in question.
In his response, the Auditor General Stevenson Kamphasa said it was unfortunate that the controlling officer was blank about the information when the National Audit Office submitted the same to his ministry in 2013 following a fraud at KCH.
Menyani ordered a suspension of the proceedings to allow the MoH team discuss the matter with the Auditor General. n