Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has provided K1.38 billion to the country’s 35 local councils for Covid-19 response, with caution to use the funds prudently.
There is an ongoing investigation by the Ombudsman into how Covid-19 funds were used by Dodma and other government ministries, departments and agents (MDAs); hence, the caution.
A letter from Local Government Finance Committee executive director Alifeyo Banda, dated August 21, addressed to all 35 councils in the country, urges authorities to be reporting to his office monthly on how the money is being used.
It reads: “The Department of Disaster, through the Ministry of Finance, has transferred to all councils K1 380 000 000 for Covid-19 as approved by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 for local interventions which include; testing screening, supplies, surveillance, enforcement, coordination and monitoring.
“You are urged to use the funds for the intended purposes as outlined above and follow the guidelines as provided by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Local Government Finance Committee [NLGFC] and report monthly to the NLGFC on the use of funds timely.”
According to the letter, all the money has already been credited to development accounts of individual councils, with figures showing Blantyre and Lilongwe district councils have received the biggest share at K85 million each.
They are followed by Karonga, Machinga, Mangochi, Mwanza and Zomba district councils at K60 million each; M’mbelwa districts (South and North) have K50 million each, while Blantyre and Lilongwe city councils have received K40 million each. The rest have received K30 million each.
Earlier, the councils received K2.4 billion from government, while K3 billion was used for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, among other allocations.
In an interview, Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said they will be writing the NLGFC, asking them to copy Dodma reports on council expenditures.
He said: “We facilitated submission of budgets from councils to the Ministry of Finance in consultation with NLGFC, and Treasury has funded the councils. On our part, we will write NLGFC formally so that we should be copied all reports on how the money is being used because we facilitated submission of budgets.”
Mzuzu City Council spokesperson McDonald Gondwe said the K30 million they have received is a huge relief as they had exhausted all the funds for the Covid-19 fight.
He said: “We were relying on non-governmental organisations for activities. We will ensure that it is put to good use.”
Meanwhile, Ombudsman Martha Chizuma has said results of an investigation into alleged lack of accountability, responsiveness and accessibility of services and funds under the National Covid-19 Response Plan and other interventions are almost ready.
In July, Chizuma wrote Dodma and public events stating that her office had learnt about allegations of lack of accountability, accessibility and responsiveness in the implementation of the plan; hence, the investigation.