President Joyce Banda on Friday had an audience with members of opposition parties at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe where she briefed them on the progress of the Cash-gate Scandal battle.
Banda said the meeting addressed the weakness in the Public Financial Management (PFM) and how goverment is moving in to correct the problem.
“As you may be aware, there have been reports of financial abuse within the public service over the past few weeks. In order to arrest these malpractices, Government is undertaking a number of necessary corrective measures, some of which are immediate and others long term.
“These measures have been taken because my Government recognises the importance of sound macro-economic management and good governance including sound public financial management as key to the development of our country.
The Precedent said she had directed that relevant Government institutions to step up the fight against fraud and looting of government money.
“The Malawi Police Service, the Anti-corruption Bureau, the Director of Public Prosecution, and the Financial Intelligence Unit should work on these issues in a concerted effort. I also informed them that I have directed that the Special Team in the Malawi Police Service headed by Mr. Bophani give regular briefings to the public and he has already started this week,” she said.
The President revealed that the investigations had revealed fraudulent vouchers as far back as 2006.
“Recognising the gravity of the matter at hand, I have told everyone at the briefing that my Government has put in place measures to arrest the pilferage of Government resources and that immediately after it was realised that the digital platform was being abused, Government temporarily suspended the IFMIS to prevent further abuse of the system and worked on corrective measures to resolve the weaknesses that were immediately identified,” she said.
“Government has mobilised both independent Malawi task team of experts and those experts from the vendor who supplied the digital platform to work on the system to ensure that all the functionalities are operational. These experts have so far identified fraudulent transactions that were made in the system and deleted. Thus, Government has been able to identify suspicious transactions and are being investigated.”
The President pledged a speedy conclusion of the investigations.
“Government will also ensure that the investigations are thorough, transparent and transformational so that never again this country will have to go such a pain again. This is why my Government has included foreign forensic experts in this investigation. To this end, we already have short term experts on the ground working with the national audit office. The audit will not be limited to the current financial year. It will zero onto payments undertaken in the past five years,” she said.
“In respect of accounting, my Government has already engaged the systems supplier to collate all suspicious transactions and review the systems gaps and plug them, including engaging an ICT Security expert who will ensure that the system is not tampered with. Government will also come up with an IFMIS ICT Security Policy in addition to capacity building through improving the competence of accounting and ICT officers. My Government will not shield anyone engaged in the current malpractice. Already there has been re-deployment of staff within the Civil Service to pave way for the investigation.”
Banda said her government would also accelerate the implementation of the Public Finance and Economic Management (PFEM) reform programme, the Money Laundering Act amendment including Civil Assets Forfeiture regime and also the tabling of the Assets and Declaration Bill.
“In addition, I have also asked the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to start consultations only on reviewing the Anti-corruption Act and the possibility of establishing an Anti-corruption Court. I want these consultations to start in his office in collaboration with the Anti-Corruption Bureau and other stakeholder,” she said.