The Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament yesterday quizzed Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) over the transfer of about K454 million from Other Recurrent Transactions (ORT) account to secretary to the Government’s account between January 2015 and June 2016.
According to the Auditor General’s report for the year ending June 30 2016, the transfer was made without approval from Treasury. This made members of the committee suspect that the money was abused.
The committee observed that the OPC contravened the Public Finance Management Act, which gives powers to Secretary to the Treasury to authorise the opening of any government account.
But the MPs observed that the account into which the K454 million was deposited was created without the authorisation from Accountant General and without evidence of being authorised by Secretary to Treasury, which is against Section 9 of Public Finance Management Act.
However, Auditor General, Stephenson Kamphasa, had cleared the anomaly based on the letter from the Accountant General.
“The query was on the understanding that we wanted to have a justification in terms of authority if the account that was being mentioned had any authority from Secretary to the Treasury. The time we were carrying out the audit, that authority was not available. So they brought the authority after the audit was done, including when I was writing the report. By that time, they were still looking for that information,” Kamphasa said after the meeting.
During the meeting, Dowa West Member of Parliament, Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi, wondered why the Auditor General disregarded provisions in the Public Finance Management Act and went ahead to clear OPC on the anomaly.
Responding to the queries, OPC Controlling Officer, Cliff Chiunda, informed the committee that OPC used the money to pay compensations. This, however, left the committee wondering as to when the OPC became “a compensation tribunal”.
Pac Vice Chairperson, Kamlepo Kalua, appealed to the OPC to be exemplary when it comes to the management of public money.
“Public money belongs to Malawians and nobody else,” Kalua said.
Kalua, who was chairing the meeting, said there should be a special meeting with the Auditor General in the absence of OPC officials and members of the media.
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