By Morton Sibale
Secretary to the Treasury, Cliff Chiunda has assured the country that government will recover every penny from the disposal of the farm equipment government acquired through a loan from India.
Chiunda was responding to questions from Members of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this week during a hearing session that was monitored and rebroadcast on the privately owned Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) on Thursday.
PAC hosted a delegation from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning on Thursday as part of its inquiry into the matter.
Chiunda said government has already made it a must that everyone who benefited from the disposal of the equipment should finish paying back all the money they owe the government before the end of this year (2019).
”No one will get away with government money. We have already put out a communication informing everyone who procured the equipment that they should pay back by December this year.
“We want to have all the money recovered by December. For those who will not cooperate, we will deduct the money from their source (salaries),” said Chiunda.
He further assured PAC members that the resources were not lost through the disposal of tractors as everything is on record and proper procedures were followed in accordance with prevailing rules guiding public procurement.
“We have records on how much is collected and how much will be collected. For civil servants, deductions are being made from their salaries, while non-civil servants made once-off payments, so everything was already recovered from non-civil servants,” he explained.
To ensure that the Government of Malawi recovers everything from the disposal of the farm equipment, Chiunda called upon PAC members and all the concerned parties to suggest other ways that would ensure recovery of the money from the disposed machinery.
In his closing remarks, Chairperson for the committee, Honourable Ken Kandodo commended Chiunda for the assurance to recover the money and expressed hope that the treasury will work on the recommendations from the Office of the Ombudsman.
”We expect that you will continue working on the recommendations to ensure that everyone who owes government money from this process should pay back. That way, your office will regain the trust of the taxpayers,” Kandodo said.
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has been conducting a follow up inquiry on the procurement and disposal of the farm machinery that Government of Malawi procured to the tune of USD 50 million from India through a loan.
The country’s Ombudsman gave its report to PAC on its investigation of the issue, findings and recommendations made.
The parliamentary committee is summoning before it government ministries and departments that were involved in the processes of procuring and disposal of the equipment.-MANA