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More rot at Macra

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A management letter from National Audit Office (NAO) to the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) for the year ended June 30, 2018 has exposed that K336,842,751 (about K337 million) was not accounted for at the regulatory institution.

The letter indicates that, among others, Macra had issues such as payment vouchers without supporting documents attached and failure to produce quarterly projections of external trips to be undertaken by its personnel.

In an interview yesterday NAO spokesperson Carol Bulilani confirmed that NAO conducted an audit at MACRA for the year ended June 30, 2018 and that the issues outlined in the document were part of the queries that were raised to management.

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“Final management letter is issued to the controlling officer and it includes all matters that will be reported in the auditor’s report. At this stage management comments are requested on the findings raised on queries. Where sufficient and reliable evidence is presented in response to the queries, the issues are resolved. All outstanding issues whose evidence is not presented to the auditors find their way to the Auditor General’s report which is tabled in Parliament and is made public at this juncture,” she said.

Bulilani further said NAO does not make public management letters because those are work in progress.

“Note that the National Audit Office does not make public the management letter considering that it represents work in progress. The outstanding queries are made public once the report is tabled. After the report is tabled, the oversight role of PAC is scrutinising the tabled Auditor General’s report and summoning of Controlling Officers before the Honourable Committee to respond to the outstanding queries,” she said.

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According to the management letter K57,015,319.37 was not accounted for in payment vouchers without supporting documents attached.

“Section 4.2.2 (IV) states that all payments shall be justified by duly-authorised supporting documents before any payment is made.

“An examination of records revealed that payments amounting to K57,015,319.37 did not have supporting documents. Therefore, it was difficult for the audit team to ascertain the validity of the expenditure made,” reads part of the letter.

Macra is accused of failing to produce quarterly projections of external trips that were taken and about K172,608,653.00 was not accounted for.

This was contrary to Section 7.2.2 (C) of the Accounting and Stores Procedure manual which states that apart from annual report, the administration department shall be required to produce quarterly projections of the trips to be undertaken and this shall be discussed and approved by Executive Management.

“An examination of records revealed that the administration department failed to produce quarterly projections of the external trips to be undertaken. Therefore, this is in contravention to section 7.2.2 of the accounting manual.

“An examination of records revealed that procurement department did not submit to finance department the travel itinerary to be used for the processing of external allowances for the whole period under review. Consequently, travel itinerary were not attached to the payment vouchers,” it reads.

The management letter also states that Macra failed to account for K13,090,500.00 by using single source against Section 37(9) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act of 2016 which gives specific circumstances to single sourcing.

Among others, the circumstances include where the estimated value of the procurement does not exceed the amount set in the regulations; and where only one supplier has the technical capability or capacity to fulfil the procurement requirement, or only one supplier has the exclusive right to manufacture the goods, carry out the works, or perform the services to be procured.

The authority is also answerable to K94,128,278.39 for fuel which was not accounted for.

“Therefore, the accountability of fuel bought is done through the acknowledgement of the fuel by the employee through signature, recording of fuel in the register and log book.

“However, an examination of records revealed that there was no signature of the recipient to acknowledge receipt of fuel, log books were not provided for audit review hence fuel worth K94,128,278.39 was not accounted,” it reads.

Efforts to speak to authorities at Macra did not yield much.

Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General Reyneck Matemba said he would not be in a position to comment because as a bureau, they have not been given a full report on the issues we were inquiring about.

“After everything when they [NAO] compile the report they give it to us. If you can find out from them whether they have officially issued a report; because after they present it to Parliament’s Public Affairs Committee (Pac), then it is given to us. It would be difficult for me to comment on it because I am not so sure which report this management letter is in,” he said.

This very week, an audit report by the Auditor General on accounts of the government for the year ended June 30 2019 showed that Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) failed to account for funds amounting to K1.5 billion.

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