As the toll of budget cuts to different government ministries and departments is expected to be deeply felt in the forthcoming financial year, the National Audit Office (Nao), says it will have to rely on off-budget support to undertake some of its activities.
In a presentation before the cluster of the Public Accounts, Budget and Finance and Government Assurances committees, Auditor General, Stephenson Kamphasa – who by virtue of his position is Nao Controlling Officer – said his office has inadequate resources which may cripple its operations.
Among others, the audit office’s budget breakdown does not have allocation of funds for the audit of Local Councils even though the bodies now handle billions of kwacha following the devolution of resource management powers.
In a response to a questionnaire this week, Nao Public Relations Officer (PRO), Lawrence Chinkhunda, said currently, the audit body has been assured of specific off-budget support for the audit of the Local Councils.
He expressed optimism that other departments that have not
been specifically allocated funds for Nao to probe their expenditures will benefit from off-budget support because “Experience has shown that development partners have also financed forensic audits in the past, with Cashgate being one of them”.
“You will recall that development partners have financed the audit of Local Councils for a number of years to date. We have, therefore, been assured through the Ministry of Finance that KFW (Germany) will finance the audit of Local Councils, hence the zero allocation in the national budget,” Chinkhunda said.
On Thursday, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, said it was only the German International Cooperation (GIZ) that was financing the audit of the Local Councils.
“I don’t think there is any other donor that has come through. We ourselves are going to use the Internal Auditing Department in the Treasury as well to have something to do with the auditing of Local Councils,” said Gondwe.
He added that using provisions in the Public Audit Act, Nao may also have to resource its plans by charging a fee to undertake specified audits, reviews, inquiries or examinations based on full cost recovery.
“We have employed this in a number of cases. As a matter of fact, as of now, we are subjecting a number of ministries to be audited, in particular as regards the problems that we have encountered in the payrolls in the Ministry of Agriculture. We are doing something there,” Gondwe said.
Nao disclosed that following funding constraints that it was facing, there was need to undertake a risk-based approach in the planning and execution of audits so that the office could meet its constitutional mandate to appraise and report on the public accounts.
The German government is one of Malawi’s development partners that stressed the need for Nao to be institutionally and financially strengthened.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues