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K14 billion debt chokes Roads Authority

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By Wezzie Gausi:

The Roads Authority (RA) is facing challenges to pay K14 billion arrears to contractors and other service providers, a senior official has said.

RA acting Chief Executive Officer Francis Dimu said this in Lilongwe Wednesday, when he led fellow officials to a meeting with Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament members.

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He said his office was waiting for funds from the Roads Fund Administration.

“We, as an institution, have finished all the necessary processes and we are just waiting for a response. We believe that the Treasury will release the funds to clear these arrears,” Dimu said.

Ben Phiri, who represented Pac Chairperson Shadric Namalomba, faulted the government for initiating public projects before identifying sources of funds.

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He said the delay in paying contractors meant the government had to settle the arrears with interest.

“We have reached that amount because interest on payments has been accumulating over time. Let the government put its house in order.

“We, as a committee, will be engaging the Treasury, Roads Fund Administration and Roads Authority to map the way forward. This issue has to be resolved once and for all,” Phiri said.

In a separate interview, Roads Fund Administration spokesperson Masauko Ngwaluko said they submitted RA claim papers to the office of the Auditor General for vetting before effecting payment.

“The papers we received have issues of claims and interest charges which need to be looked into by the Auditor General’s office before funding is released. The Treasury has assured us that the money is there but we only need to be clear on the issue of claims and interest charges,” Ngwaluko said.

The private sector, civil society organisations and other players have been raising concerns over growing levels of public debt in the country.

Malawi’s public debt stands at around K5 trillion, according to the Treasury.

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