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Anti-Corruption Bureau, others forfeit millions to Treasury

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Reyneck Matemba

Amid calls for government to increase budgetary allocation to some institutions, Malawi News investigations show that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) as well as some ministries and departments underspent in the 2019/2020 financial year.

The graft-bursting body forfeited K290 million to Treasury after failing to utilise its allocated funds by June 30 2020.

Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu confirmed that there are indeed a number of government departments and ministries that did not spend their allocation and the resources have since been returned to government’s Account Number One.

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“I can’t really know how many MDAs [ministries, departments and agencies] did not use their allocation for 2019 to 2020 fiscal year but certainly government will use the same money in this financial year,” Mlusu said.

The revelations come amid growing calls for government to increase budgetary allocation to ACB to deal with heavy workload that includes over 3,000 cases.

The bureau has often been criticised for the slow pace with which it handles various cases and dragging its foot in acting against corrupt officials.

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ACB Director General Reyneck Matemba recently told the media that his officers at times use personal money to finance investigation and prosecution of cases.

When contacted on the underspending, Matemba explained that it was difficult for ACB to access the funding due to what he described as bureaucracy that was heavy in the government that time.

And the Accountant General’s office, through Treasury spokesperson Williams Banda, said the office is conducting reconciliations for 2019/20 and cannot therefore give out the exact number of MDAs that returned funds.

“Some institutions like ACB may have not utilised the money due to Covid-19 and early closure of the Ifmis to control over-expenditure,” he said.

Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira described the development as shameful and lack of seriousness.

“It is a sad development considering that the bureau has been attributing its inactivity to inadequate and erratic funding. The revelation clearly demonstrates ACB’s lack of commitment in fighting graft and corruption. The revelations vindicate what we have been saying that ACB was captured by politicians and failed to discharge its duties. It is high time that we changed the law that guides the appointment of the ACB director,” he said.

Our analysis shows that the K290 million was enough to procure a fleet of six vehicles; this amount was also enough for ACB to hire over 41 lawyers to fast-track prosecution of cases and the same amount was enough to recruit 644 staff.

In the 2019/2020 financial year, the bureau got a budgetary allocation of K3.7 billion.

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