The revelations come at a time government is struggling to implement the zero-deficit budget whose recurrent expenditure is financed locally.
The money is more than the education recurrent funding of about K340 million (about $2.04 million) to Domasi College of Education in Zomba to train teachers this year, according to the 2011/12 government budget.
“During the period 2007 to 2009, Viphya Plantations Division (VPD) failed to collect more than K160 million [about $958 083) from operators. However, the Department of Forestry continued to renew licences and award plots to the operators even if they did not comply with the logging agreements.
“The audit found that the rate of harvesting trees and destruction of forest by fire was higher than the rate of replanting… It was estimated that the total cost of the area damaged outside the concession area amounts to K184 million [about $1.10 million],” reads the performance audit report in part.
It says during the audit period, about 23 000 hectares of the plantation were affected by fire while only 3 000 hectares were harvested between 1999 and 2009.
Viphya Plantations Division collects revenue from sales of trees and fuel wood, rentals and issuance of permits to plantation operators. The trees are sold to Raiply and other operators, including Wood Industry Corporation, Shire Limited and small-scale operators, among others, says the report.
Kampanje on Wednesday said the economic loss at the plantation is more because most of the timber from the site is exported in unprocessed form.
“We need to start fully processing timber right here because we found that timber is going to Mozambique and other countries for processing. We could gain more if these processes were done here,” said Kampanje.
The audit also reveals that structures and work plans in most companies operating in the plantations do not meet basic environmental requirements.
“Operators violated environmental laws and regulations. Seventy-five percent of the operators did not have environmental management plans. It was also observed that all companies except Raiply did not have reforestation programmes.