Malawi: Local Councils Urged to Seal Leakages in Public Finance

President of the Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA) councillor Wild Ndipo has called upon finance managers in local councils to strengthen public finance management systems to 'prove wrong those that believe local government authorities are there to abuse public funds'.

Ndipo made the call in Mangochi recently during the 2020/2021 annual general meeting (AGM) for MALGA Finance Managers Network (MALGA-FINET).

MALGA-FINET, one of the structures within Malga, is an umbrella body of all directors of finance in the 35 local councils of Malawi.

It is reported that each council handles a minimum of K1.5 billion annually. This comprises locally generated revenues, central government transfers and donor funds.

And there is 'over-blown and widespread' public suspicion that such money, including the 'feasted upon' K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds, are abused at the hands of local government authorities.

But Ndipo, who is also the Mayor of the City of Blantyre, said local councils are 'prudent' in managing public finances.

He added that even an audit into the K6.2 billion either found local governments with 'no audit queries' or had 'smaller other issues' that 'did not necessarily require interdiction of any controlling officer'.

"Let us prove wrong those still in doubt that local governments have yet very capable people. And in most cases, more capable than elsewhere. As finance managers from local governments, you need to tighten all loose ends and seal all leakages of financial management at local level. The Finet forum is strategically positioned to contribute to the forgoing aspiration," he said.

Ndipo, therefore, called upon members of MALGA-FINET to ensure that the network remains active and functioning for continued 'prudent' financial management in local councils.

"As a forum for peer learning, experience sharing and consensus building on financial management, FINET is central to addressing cases of public finance management at local level," he said.

MALGA-FINET Chairperson Ellen Kayira boasted that local councils are 'fine and efficient' in public finance management, adding that accusations of abuse of funds, especially with regard to the constituency development fund, is due to 'political interference'.

But Kayira admitted that more capacity building is required to strengthen the unity of finance managers in local councils so that they continue to support each other in executing their roles while adhering to audit and financial management acts.

"Non-financial managers must also be trained in issues of financial management. In that case, there will be zero audit queries. Financial managers are at the far end when it comes to making payments because a lot is involved in the chain," she said.

More From: Nyasa Times

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