Parliament Gate: Chakwera,Other Mps Pocket MK 165 Mn For Nothing…Double Allowance Claims
Malawi Parliament has been caught embroiled in financial mismanagement with an audit report revealing of suspicious payments amounting to at least K165 million with some of the legislators also paid allowances dubiously as there is no trace of business undertaken while others claimed double allowances.
An audit for the financial year ending June 2013 revealed that Parliament made misallocated payments of about K91 857 027. 52, paid about K55 million to Sunbird Capital for catering services without evidence of contract agreement, paid out about K14 million without payment of vouchers and other documentary evidence, paid K4 million for unrecorded fuel and irregularly paid various amounts in allowances to MPs.
Members of the Malawi Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have since expressed concern over such suspicious transactions of funds and payments of items without supporting documents, describing the development as unfortunate.
Parliament Secretariat just like all other Government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), appeared before PAC to answer several audit queries.
During the meetings with PAC, members of PAC noted that misappropriation of funds, poor filing systems and payment of items without supporting documents which has been a common case in other (MDAs) did not spare Parliament itself.
Rumphi West MP Kamlepo Kalua, who is deputy chairperson of the committee, said it was “worrisome” that such suspicious payments were also prevalent at Parliament which was supposed to be at the forefront abiding by the set rules, regulations and procedures since laws forbidding such mismanagement come from it.
“I am worried that these things are happening at this institution, even though the Auditor General says they are aware of the problems, but this is worrisome,” said Kalua.
In the audit query, Parliament was asked how some MPs were paid for subsistence allowance and wear and tear for activities they did not attend and some were erroneously paid double allowances.
The audit noted that some of the money has not been recovered yet as the legislators who got the money were no longer in Parliament.
Some of the dubiously paid allowances are for MPs who are no longer in the House making it difficult for Parliament Secretariat to enforce recovery of the money.
The committee quizzed Clerk of Parliament (CoP) Fiona Kalemba to inform the committee if they have recovered K136 480 irregularly paid to former MP Abele Kayembe for a committee meeting he was supposed not to attend and if money paid as double allowances to another MP Stanley Chalera amounting to K172,840 has been recovered.
Kalemba, in her response, admitted that for Kayembe the money was not recovered as the member is no longer a sitting MP, a situation that makes it difficult to recover. However, she said Chalera was notified that the money will be deducted from his account.
“I sincerely regret that we did not recover the money in time. It is possible to recover from Chalera because he retained his seat while with Kayembe we are still looking at how we can recover it,” she said.
Kalemba apologized to the committee for the misallocated payments saying her department had to use the funds because they were strained with emergency programmes and meetings which needed urgent money.
She explained that they wrote the Treasury to seek permission to spend some funds, but Treasury did not respond to them in time; hence, their going ahead with the expenditure.
“I wish to agree that the funds were misallocated and I sincerely regret the anomaly. All this happened because of the pressure that was there like the emergency meetings for some committees which meant we needed to cater for catering, cleaning and security services, plus reimbursements for those meeting,” added Kalemba.
Committee chairperson Alekeni Menyani said despite the explanation given by Kalemba the misallocation should have been avoided.
“We are still worried with what happened. I hope the secretariat will really improve and let us one day tour the filing system to appreciate what happens here,” said Menyani.