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Inspector General grilled over K2.3bn contract

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The Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament has said it believes there was collusion between the Malawi Police Service and a food supplier, Pioneer Investments, over an interest claim by the latter said to be K567.8 million accrued through delayed payment.
Police Inspector General Lexten Kachama, Secretary to the Treasury Ben Botolo and Auditor General Stevenson Kamphasa appeared before the committee yesterday to give evidence on the legitimacy of interest claim totalling K567, 866, 013, 38.
During the meeting, Pac chairperson, Alekeni Menyani, argued that the delayed payment was a deliberate move by the IG’s office as there was no written contract on the matter and the contract was in form of invoices that was made by the supplier.
Menyani has since said what happened to contractual agreement between police and Pioneer Investments was gross incompetence and collusion between the two entities.
“This is a scam, because government contracts usually have clauses where you should be able to provide reasonable defence on such big contracts,” Menyani said
However, when he was questioned on how police came into the contract and if they are taking into consideration to pay the claim Pioneer was making, Kachama who was accompanied by his deputy for administration Duncan Mwapasa and legal advisor Mwai Kalua among other officers, informed the committee that MPS cannot pay K567.8 million as the contract that was signed did not have a clause on interest.
“There is no basis for the police to pay the claimed interest by Pioneer Investments Limited,” Kachama said.
But letters provided by the Auditor General and Secretary to the Treasury written by Kachama, indicate that the police were willing to pay the interest to Pioneer.
Botolo said that Kachama was aware of all the implications and the mess of the contract and he should take full responsibility for it.
“I invited the Inspector General to discuss the issue of the contract. As in his letter, he clearly indicated that Treasury should pay the interest. I stopped the interest payment after the initial authorisation. I am hesitant to pay until after clearance from the Auditor General,” Botolo said
He said Pioneer Investments knew there was a flaw on how the contract was made hence it took advantage to make the claim.
Botolo told the committee that whether some one likes it or not the mess has been created and the money is expected to be paid.
In the controversial deal, Pioneer Investments is claiming the payment of interest for the food supplied between January 1 2016 and June 30 2017.
The food supplier who excused himself from appearing before the committee insists there is nothing wrong in their interest claim
The meeting will continue next week to allow the Auditor General to understand the contractual agreements further.

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