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Five councils lose direct Local Development Fund funding

The Local Development Fund (LDF) has withheld funding for the Public Works Programme (PWP) from five district councils in the first $70 million additional financing of the fourth phase of the Malawi Social Action Fund (Masaf 4).

The five councils of Mulanje, Ntcheu, Mwanza, Mangochi and Karonga face the purge following their failure to submit full financial reports for the $32million original financing of the programme during the 2015/2016 financial year.

Head of Development Communications at LDF, Booker Matemvu, confirmed the development in a telephone interview yesterday.

He said: “The unfortunate part is that we are having an outcry from the beneficiaries. They are bearing the brunt of the wrong they did not do. So, we are working on a mechanism to respond to their concerns.”

In the interim, Matemvu said LDF will pay the beneficiaries directly, with the councils in question receiving just five percent of the funds to aid supervision.

“For the sake of the people who the PWP intends to benefit, the projects will be implemented centrally. So we will ask the councils to submit names of beneficiaries to us,” he disclosed.

The five are among the 13 councils that were blacklisted in the end of year report but, to date, according to Matemvu, only eight have made progress by liquidating the resources to acceptable levels.

However, The Daily Times has established that weak internal audit functions are contributing to financial mismanagement in most councils.

Out of the 28 councils, for instance, only Nkhata Bay has an internal auditor to keep track of all expenditures, among other functions.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Kisswell Dakamau, acknowledged the challenge and said government is banking on the ongoing national decentralisation programme to solve the problem.

“We have challenges with the audit function in our councils. Turnover is very high. In some cases, we have one internal auditor whose capacity does not suffice for the scope of financial management available. So, through the devolution of human resources, we hope to pull all auditors from various sectors under one umbrella and we expect things to improve,” Dakamau explained.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has approved the $75 million second additional financing which, apart from the PWP, will also cater for the social cash transfer programmes in the nine districts which were initially not enlisted on the programme.

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