Over K3.8 billion in Covid-19 funds abused in Malawi


Over K3.8 billion meant for the fight against Covid-19 was abused in government ministries and departments.

This has been revealed by an audit report on the K17.29 billion which President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration disbursed in January, 2021 for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The audit report is dated 25 January, 2022 and the audit was conducted by AuditConsult which was hired by the National Audit Office.

According to the audit report, over K3.5 billion was stolen through goods and services. The largest amount for goods and services was abused at Ministry of Education which spent K1.7 billion on goods and services by requesting for quotations.

“We believe that if they used open tender, they could have saved a lot of money as part of value for money,” the report says.

At Ministry of Health, K1.5 billion was paid to Central Medical Stores Trust Fund (CMST) for purchase of drugs and medical supplies related to Covid-19 but the items were not procured at time of writing the report and the money is yet to be accounted for.

About K268 million was lost in form of allowances and questionable fuel purchases.

Irregularities related to the K268 million include allowances with no attendance registers (K50 million) and allowances with missing payment vouchers (K26 million). Other irregularities include missing fuel purchase requisition invoices and missing purchase vouchers for fuel (K28 million).

The abuses were registered in the Ministry of Health, including hospitals (K106.7 million), as well as in the Ministry of National Unity where K40.4 million was abused and in local council where K67.7 million was abused.

President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration released about K6.2 billion for Covid-19 fight in 2020.

In January, 2021, President Chakwera announced another off-budget allocation of K17.29 billion for Covid-19.

However, after an audit report revealed that some of the K6.2 billion was stolen, there were concerns over the second allocation.

This forced government to recall the K17.29 billion in February, 2022 but according to the report, K4.2 billion was the money returned to Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA).

“At the time of the audit, about K519 million was still unspent at DODMA and overall unspent balance was K7.5 billion out of K17.29 billion. DODMA failed to reconcile the exact amount including those unspent by clusters out of the allocated K17.29 billion,” reads part of the report.

The auditors have since recommended that administrative remedies should be applied and that officers who took part in the malpractices which resulted in the loss of funds should be made to pay back the money.

“The government should ensure that all malpractices that are criminal in nature are handed over to law enforcement agencies for further action,” reads part of the report.

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