Acting Auditor General, Thomas Makiwa, Tuesday decried the proposed 38 percent reduction in funding to the National Audit Office (NAO) in the 2021-22 National Budget.
Makiwa was speaking at Parliament Building in Lilongwe when he appeared before the Budget and Finance and Public Accounts cluster of the House which is currently scrutinising allocations to various government ministries, departments and agencies.
He said last year, NAO was allocated K1.35 billion for Other Recurrent Transactions (ORT) and K862.7 million for Personal Emoluments (PE). He said the PE allocation was later revised at mid-year to K964.53 million bringing the total allocation under the NAO vote to K2.214 billion.
Makiwa said in the 2021-22 budget, NAO has been allocated an ORT budget ceiling of K594.89 and K771 million for PE, bringing the total to K1.365 billion.
The development means that the NAO vote has been slashed by 38 percent as compared to last year.
“We understand that this is due to the fact that the current financial year will be nine months long but our workload will not change. We still have to audit government ministries, department and agencies by December 31,” Makiwa said.
NAO has since requested for an additional K1.003 billion funding to enable it function effectively.
Of the additional amount, K259 million is to enable the institution to audit 10 embassies and consulates which have not been audited since 2016.
Makiwa said K300 million of the additional resources is for auditing ministries, departments and agencies.
“K210 million is meant for auditing councils. Since 2011/12 local councils, as per the decentralisation policy, are supposed to produce financial statements and these are audited separately from the MDAs and this increased the scope of audit for the Auditor General to issue audit opinions on each council, including sectors, unlike in the past when sector audits used to fall under line ministries.
“K150 million is for Public Service Reforms. NAO has been selected to pilot reforms in line with the Malawi Public Service Reforms Policy. The Office of the President and Cabinet has tasked NAO to make reforms in its operations to improve delivery of audit services to the nation,” Makiwa said.
Co-Chairperson of the cluster, Gladys Ganda, said it was worrying to note the reduced funding to such a critical area of governance.
Ganda said if the country is to be seen to be serious about issues of accountability, transparency an ending theft in government, there is need to adequately fund the crucial aspect of auditing.
During the meeting, cluster members agreed to send back NAO to rework on additional funding demand so that it prioritises elements that are of urgent need.
NAO has since been given up to close of business today to resubmit its request for additional funding, after which the cluster is expected to engage Secretary to Treasury on the same.