By Rebecca Chimjeka
The Office of Ombudsman is investigating National Economic Empowerment Fund (Neef) over allegations of flouting loan procedures, The Sunday Times has established.
Ombudsman Grace Malera has confirmed that her office has instituted the investigations following a number of complaints they have been receiving.
“Since the rebranding of Malawi Enterprise Development Fund to [Neef] the Office of Ombudsman has been receiving a number of complaints which were not specific but hinging on systems and procedures for granting loans as being less transparent and likely to lead to injustice in access,” Malera said.
According to Malera, her office is engaging Neef to understand the processes involved in loan application.
It is also analysing the applications and how the loans are serviced.
“Our monitoring process will enable us to provide oversight in the administration of the loans by Neef and also to analyse the complaints that came mainly through our mobile clinics,” Malera said.
Thursday, the ombudsman and her team went to Neef to monitor how the organisation is conducting itself when it comes to accountability and transparency in the disbursement of the youth and women loans.
Malera said her office will be carrying out further visits to Neef offices to monitor the actual processes and administration of loans to ensure compliance with set relevant procedures, policies and laws and recommend remedies if gaps are noted.
Neef spokesperson Whytone Kapasule said Thursday the ombudsman did not visit Neef for any investigation.
“We are not being investigated but the Office of Ombudsman engaged us for them to understand how we are carrying out our duties. They have not lodged any complaints before us but rather they sought to appreciate how we are doing our work following their own visits countrywide to appreciate citizens’ access to many government services, including Neef services.” Kapasule said.
In September, this year, Neef announced that it had disbursed K18.8 billion to 6,669 groups and 461 individuals.
In November last year, an audit report by Central Internal Audit Unit exposed that Neef loan application and assessment procedures were weak and that K64 million was disbursed to beneficiaries that could not be traced by the audit team.