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Audit queries K645 million medical bills

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By Wezzie Gausi:

A latest Auditor General’s report on Malawi Government accounts for the year ended June 30 2019 has raised questions on how the Ministry of Health and Population paid K645 million in foreign referral medical bills.

Foreign referrals are patients who are sent abroad for expert treatment which is not found in Malawi.

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According to Treasury Instructions 2004 Section 5.15.1, controlling officers must ensure that proper accounting records are maintained to support all financial and related transactions and that full supporting documents are retained and filed in such a way that they are easily and readily accessible.

But according to the audit report, an inspection of payment vouchers revealed that payments amounting to K645,849,971.57 in relation to funds transfers made for medical referral cases abroad were not supported by liquidation documents.

“Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain whether the expenditures were made for the intended purpose,” the report reads.

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The audit report has also raised eyebrows over K128,915,153.52 stores items which were not accounted for at the ministry.

“An inspection of stores records for the ministry under development expenditure revealed that stores items worth K128,915,153.52 purchased during the year under review were not recorded in the stores ledger. Therefore, it was difficult to ascertain the accountability of stores items purchased,” the report reads.

The audit further says an inspection of financial records revealed that payment vouchers amounting to K25,608,300.91 were not produced for audit inspection.

It says the audit team was, therefore, not able to ascertain the authenticity and propriety made.

Also at the ministry, the audit discovered that records for fuel worth K61,722,238.21 were not produced for inspection.

Public Audit Act 2003 Section 7(1)(a) stipulates that the Auditor General and his staff shall at all times be entitled to have access to all books, records or returns relating to accounts and all controlling officers shall give them every facility for inspecting such documents.

“Contrary to the above instruction, the ministry failed to produce fuel receipts and liquidation reports of fuel amounting to K61,722,238.21 for audit inspection. Consequently, the accountability of fuel in question could not be verified and accounted for.

“Out of the amount for fuel in question, fuel amounting to K57,892,993.71 was for the ministry headquarters and K3,829,244.50 was for Kamuzu Central Hospital,” the report says.

The report was presented by former Finance Minister, Joseph Mwanamvekha, on February 19 and was referred to Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament.

Pac started meeting last week to look at the issues raised in the audit report as well as other matters regarding the use of resources in local councils.

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