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Funds abuse haunts government

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Secretary to Treasury (ST), Ronald Mangani, Wednesday lambasted corrupt local council officials particularly in the management of Public Works Programmes which are supposed to assist vulnerable Malawians affected by effects of climate change.

The projects are funded by government through the Local Development Fund (LDF) and Mangani said reports indicate that some unscrupulous individuals are pilfering the funds earmarked for the Productive Public Works.

According to the ST, draft reports from some of the Special Audit Reports reveal “shocking developments in the council”, some of them bordering on criminal acts.

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He said this when he officially opened the Review Meeting of the Masaf 4 Productive Public Works Programme Implementation in Lilongwe.

Mangani conceded that government is being criticised for seemingly condoning the malaise that is affecting fiscal discipline, especially in the country’s councils.

“We are working hard to instill fiscal discipline and prudence in the management of public resources. Once the current audits are completed, we will move to prosecute all those that are involved in the malpractice,” Mangani said.

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Asked whether government should really be taken seriously when reports of public funds’ abuse continue coming out in spite of a lot of talk from authorities, Mangani said some people have been taken to task over the malaise.

The ST added that he had received information that the majority of district councils have not provided full liquidation of funds for the June- September public works sub-projects while some of those that have provided liquidation repudiated only 1 percent of the funds.

LDF Executive Director, Charles Mandala, warned that the abuse of public works funds, through the distortion of given procedures, threatens the future of the programme.

“There is rampant abuse of principles procedures, and systems of financial management in councils. This is very rampant and government has launched investigations through the Central Internal Audit Unit. 21 of the 35 councils are under investigation right now,” said Mandala.

He added that there are ghost beneficiaries and ghost projects where council authorities are conniving to siphon public funds meant for the poor.

The two-day meeting brought together council officials including District Commissioners and Chief Executive Officers, finance personnel, traditional leaders and police Officers-in-Charge.

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