Treasury outlines measures to address audit queries

 

The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has outlined 35 measures to address five key issues raised in the Auditor General’s report in various government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs)

Over the past two-and-a-half months, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been discussing the Auditor General’s reports covering financial years 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15 for various MDAs.

During the meetings, five general issues of misallocation of resources, poor record management, accumulation of arrears, breach of the Integrated Financial Management and Information Systems (Ifmis)—government’s electronic payment platform—and poor fuel management emerged.

Botolo: There are recommendations

Among others, Treasury recommend abolition of using third parties in procurement of items which security agencies—Malawi Defence Force (MDF), Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the Department of Immigration—are said to be major culprits.

The recommendations also call for an engagement with controlling officers at MDF and police to come up with measures to cut costs on equipment and supplies.

Presenting the recommendations to PAC on Friday, Secretary to the Treasury Ben Botolo said there is need for concerted efforts between government, Parliament and the Auditor General to work together in achieving the said recommendations rather than leaving one party to do the work.

He said: “The measures presented will not only be for the implementation to addresses the problems found, but also are aimed at improving the country’s fiscal discipline and management. The ministry will at all times ensure that matters of good fiscal management are buttressed in the operations of MDAs.”

Botolo said despite considerable efforts by government to rein in on accumulation of arrears by MDAs, the malpractice still happens and described it a matter of grave concern which emanates from failure by controlling officers to abide by the provisions of sections 87-88 of the Public Finance Management Act.

On misallocation of resources, the Ministry of Finance says no virement shall be done after the Mid-Year Budget Review except, when there is drastic change in economic value, during unforeseen eventualities that cannot be addressed using the provisions of Vote 278 (Unforeseen expenditures).

On Ifmis, the ministry says there is need for the review of the Public Finance Management Act to cover Ifmis operations, use and Ifmis data protection provisions to help deal with the problem of manipulation of data in the Ifmis.

In his remarks, PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani said as a committee they are happy that the ministry has outlined the recommendations, but said the most important part about it all is the actual implementation.

He noted that there are some recommendations that have been there before but officers overlooked them and took things as usual which he said is bad and costing the country billions.

Menyani, therefore, said serious considerations needs to be done on Ifms to avoid further breach which continues up to now, bringing fears that the country might end up in cash gate again. n

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