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OPC to finalise July 6 refunds next week

Richard Chimwendo Banda

By Deogratias Mmana:

The refund of over K112 million, which Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) said was not used during this year’s independence celebrations, will be made by next week.

Clerk to the Cabinet, Marjorie Shema, disclosed this in an interview with Malawi News.

“The process of transferring the amount back to Treasury is currently underway and will be finalised next week,” she said.

Shema’s statement follows Malawi News revelations that K238 million was deposited into Chief Secretary to the Government (Secretary to the President and Cabinet) bank account on July 2, 2021 against a trimmed budget of K50 million.

This year’s independence celebrations committee chairperson Richard Chimwendo Banda had confirmed the trimming of the budget and depositing of the money into Chief Secretary to the Government Account at FDH bank.

Chimwendo told the paper that K87 million was used for the celebrations and that the unused funds would be returned to Treasury.

On the actual day, President Lazarus Chakwera expressed displeasure with the shoddy works by those tasked with the Independence Day decorations.

“Mukuona wina akuti akuika zokongoletsera kuti tikukondwerera zaka 57, koma kuona ntchito yake, yosalozeka ndikulozeka komwe ngati uyang’ane kumbali [somebody says they have done some decorations for our 57th Independence celebrations and yet the workmanship is so poor that you wouldn’t look at it twice],” Chakwera said.

Last week, Shema issued a statement in which she disclosed that K87,086,097.50 was the total expenditure for the celebrations. She also disclosed that K14,401,083.00 was paid to Malawi Revenue Authority and K203,062.0 was paid to Tourism Fund.

“The public may recall that the celebrations were initially planned for the three administrative regions of the country with the main event in Lilongwe and then in Blantyre for the Southern Region and in Mzuzu for the Northern Region,” reads Shema’s statement.

She adds: “Owing to this earlier arrangement, the total budget for holding the celebrations in the three regions was K243 million. In light of this, Treasury disbursed K200 million to the Office of the President and Cabinet through an FDH bank account under the name Chief Secretary to the Government.”

Her statement went further: “Currently, the Office of the President and Cabinet is in the process of returning of returning the MK12,913,902.50 remaining balance out of the K200 million that was disbursed by the Treasury.”

According to OPC, expenditure breakdown, among others, was as follows: public events K44.3 million; transport K1 million; publicity K5.7 million; decorations, celebration cloth, golf shirts ad branded t-shirts K36.1 million.

The payments also included: K12.3 million for fuel and honoraria for clergy and choirs; accommodation for clergy for South K1,003,574; accommodation for clergy North K1,072,400; conference and accommodation for clergy K15,241,412.77 publications K1,369,690.00; hiring equipment K1.2 million; allowances for officers travelling to Mzuzu, Mangochi and Blantyre KK770,000.00; allowances again for officers traveling to Mzuzu, Mangochi and Blantyre K280,000; fuel for trip to northern and southern regions K855,000.

Other payments were for special number plates at K930,000.00; printing of 3,000 magazine copies at K1,354,312.50; banners K4.4 million; designing the celebration cloth KK407,750.00; 500 and supply of 8000 metres celebration cloth K1,072,160.00.

Last week, Public Accounts Committee (Pac) chairperson Shadreck Namalomba asked the Auditor General to verify the figures from OPC because he said they did not tally.

National Audit Office spokesperson Rabson Kagwamminga said on Thursday that the audit office was yet to receive an official request from Pac.

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