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Covid funds audit starts,

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ORDERED AUDIT— Chakwera

National Audit Office (Nao) has commenced an audit into how councils spent their share of the K6.2 billion meant for Covid response last year.

Nao spokesperson Rabson Kagwamminga said the audit was progressing well.

“I can confirm that the National Audit Office has dispatched teams of auditors to local councils and other public institutions to conduct further investigations into the alleged mismanagement of K6.2 billion Covid funds. This is part of the investigative audit currently under way at the Department of Disaster Management Affairs by the National Audit Office,” he said.

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Kagwamminga could, however, not be drawn to shed light on when the audit would be completed.

“I can’t provide that detail at the moment. However, our target is to complete the audit within the shortest time possible bearing in mind the urgency of the matter in question,” he said.

Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira hailed the exercise, saying it would help the government to restore finance management mechanisms where gaps arise.

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“It is, however, important that the audit should be done professionally. It is our expectation that the Auditor General will avoid shortcuts. We would even be happy if there were an independent auditor auditing the councils so that the councils are not victimised because, as it is, it’s like government auditing itself,” he said.

There was a public outcry when information came to light that a big chunk of the money councils received was spent on allowances at the expense of personal protective equipment and civic education exercises.

Following the revelations, a number of senior government officials, including district commissioners, were interdicted.

President Lazarus Chakwera directed Nao to audit councils.

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