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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Let them face the law

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Let us travel back in time when life was simpler, funnier and, generally, more forgettable. The things we worried about were so little compared to today
During that time, though, a lot of big, serious things happened, the re-advent of plural politics being one them.
This was disruptive. It changed our world and brought greedy politicians and bred corruption. Here is how we know that is true. Yesterday, Performance Evaluation Results for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for 2016/17 were released. The results were generally good.
The Public Sector Performance Evaluation Report found the performance of the Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Finance, the Malawi Law Commission and office of the Ombudsman, to have improved compared to the 2015/16 financial year.
The Ministry of Industry, National Audit Office and Ministry of Justice did better in their respective categories than last year.
But the report named the Financial Intelligence Authority and National Assembly as the best performing entities, with the Competition and Fair Trading Commission becoming the best performing parastatal.
But we worry because of what the June 30, Audit Report reveals despite some strides being made.
The report does expose malfeasances and how entrenched corruption is in the public service.
A case in point is what was found at the Ministry of Health, where close to K1 billion spent could not be accounted for, highlighting the never ending fraudulent activities at Capita Hill that have paralysed the health sector.
According the audit, K882,256,021 spent on allowances did not have any backing documents such as invoices and receipts but was paid out as allowances, ranging from paying people that could not be traced while other payments were made using rates that are not approved.
About K265 million was paid out in allowances to officers who are not bonafide civil servants and K399 million was paid out to people that cannot be traced whereas K61 million was paid out to non-deserving staff.
This reveals how Controlling Officers have, over the years, been failing to control funds and still go to work and make the same mistakes over and over again.
It’s time to put a stop to all this.
We believe that we can only make meaningful progress if culprits are brought to book and punished.
We also know that enforcing strict compliance of financial provisions in the MDAs would improve public finance management and control.
There is also need for those entrusted with managing public finances to comply with financial rules and regulations by, among other things, making sure that bank reconciliations are regularly prepared for all bank accounts maintained by the central bank
Finally, we recommend further investigations to be conducted by Fiscal Police and the Anti- Corruption Bureau on Controlling Officers in public entities that fail to account for public funds. This, we believe, is the only way organised stealing of our money will end.

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