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Pac reports funds abuse in embassies

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The Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament Wednesday told the august House that for the past seven years there has been massive abuse of public resources in foreign missions.

Pac chairperson Mark Botomani presented a report in which he said there were irregularities in contract management, theft and abuse of public resources in the embassies of United Nations (UN), Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa and many more.

“We have several mismanagement cases of funds, starting from the actual theft of visa fees and using funds for unrelated activities. There is need to put to a stop all the malpractices that have been happening,” Botomani said.

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He added that in South Africa, for example, over K21 million of revenue was underbanked.

The report also points out that in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, a visa book was missing and that efforts to trace it proved futile.

The committee also noted that funds were being used for unintended purposes, citing Malawi’s permanent Mission to the UN where there were cases of borrowing of UN funds amounting to $25,000 to support activities that were not related to peace keeping between 2012 and 2015.

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Botomani said within the years, there were also issues of making transfers, expenditures and payment of funds without laid-down procedures such that is some cases, payment of suppliers was done through staff accounts.

“There are codes of conduct and there are several procedures that are supposed to be followed. It is just a matter of them following the procedures and then there will have no problem. There are cases that we have referred to law enforcement agencies like the [Anti-Corruption Bureau] for action,” he said.

Pac has since lamented “too much negligence” on the parts of heads of missions and diplomats and has recommended that all culprits, whether local or foreign, should be held accountable for “their carelessness in the management of public resources.”

“We are also recommending that the Secretary to Treasury, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary to the President and Cabinet should ensure that they sensitise diplomats to what their jobs entail especially in terms of public finance management,” Botomani said.

The report is scheduled for debate next week Wednesday after which the House will have to either adopt or reject it.

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