Since the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (Pac) started scrutinising the audit report by the Auditor General, one thing that has come out clearly is that there is still serious abuse of public funds in government’s ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The lackadaisical approach that controlling officers take when handling the public purse is too much to accept. Take, for instance, last week when officials from the Judiciary were asked to explain how they used K124 million for fuel allowance, all they had to explain was that some of the money was lost due to some rush and wrong payments they made. It has ended just like that.
Then we have the mind-boggling case of the Malawi Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya allegedly being duped of a staggering $500,000(about K360 million) by Kairu Mbuthia and Kingati Advocates, a Kenyan law firm. We are certain that more startling revelations will be made as the days go.
Four years ago, in 2013, this nation woke up to the shocking revelation of loot of public resources dubbed Cashgate. That time people believed that Cashgate was just a one-off scandal. But it is now clear that there is a lot of theft, corruption and abuse of public funds which is refusing to die in government’s MDAs.
But, as nation, we can ill-afford to continue with this carelessness in handling public resource. For a country as poor as we are, it does not make sense that we should continue to have millions, actually billions, going down the drain. Our infrastructure is in bad state, our health and education system are in a sorry state, yet we have the carelessness and luxury of wasting money that could have been used to correct our systems.
The biggest problem we have is that there is some laissez-faire attitude when it comes to enforcing the law on controlling officers who are responsible for losses of such magnitude. Actually, officers know that even if they abuse public resource, people will just talk and forget.
The systems in government need to be tightened and all porous holes be closed using all agencies and the law.
We hope that Pac, too, should not just be another barking dog. As it has started, we urge Pac to pursue these matters with diligence and tenacity so that those responsible for the losses must be held accountable. The losses are just too much for a country already thin on resources like ours. Something drastic has to be done.
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