So, it has come to this! The ceiling of patriotism in the management and administration of development funds at local councils has dropped so low that those entrusted with the local development budget seem to see nothing wrong with misusing public funds.
As an audit report by the Central Internal Audit Unit of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has revealed, K21 out of every K100 designated for development ends up in public officials’ pockets, instead of trickling down to communities in the form of development.
To make matters worse, the report indicates that the 21 percent which is abused is way above the predestined audit threshold for abuse of resources, which is at five percent.
To say the least, this is embarrassing, considering that, in the wake of donor rumpus, which has culminated in traditional donors withholding support to the national budget, one would have thought that we would be more prudent with public resources.
We should not forget that the country has, since independence, been haunted by the fact that the tax base is narrow; meaning that the government has been squeezing us hard, in terms of taxes, in order to meet its obligations to the citizenry.
And to hear that such resources are not always used for the intended purpose will, surely, lead to the citizenry losing trust in duty-bearers, who should be good custodians of our resources in the first place.
Moving forward, we need to implement the recommendations made by the auditors. This means ensuring that development budgets are derived from district development plans, recording of all funds that were not used for the intended purpose as well as completing all projects that were fully paid for.
The citizenry itself should also play a proactive role by ensuring that it is following up on development projects. Otherwise, public resources may continue going down the drain and, 53 years after independence, we will continue to sing the song of poverty which, as it were, is not pleasant to the ear.
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