The controlling officer for the judiciary, Agness Patemba and her team failed to explain evidence to back the spending of K124 million as fuel allowances for staff in the year 2012/2013 during a parliamentary Public Committee (PAC) on Wednesday.

Patemba and PAC`s clerk Fred Kamwani

Nation  Audit Office found that a sum of K16 million was abusively used through allowances and dubious fuel allocations in the judiciary.

Apart from K16 million audit questions, the audit also revealed there was  payment if  fuel allowances not accounted for worth K7.2mill bulk purchase of fuel not accounted for  amounting to K85.6million.

Records submitted to the committee show among other questions concerning mismanagement include non-maintenance of fuel ledgers worth K28.9 million purchases; not recorded in stores ledger worth K20.million ; unsubstantiated fuel refund worth K1. 5million;  fuel not accounted for through log books amounting to K2.3 million and unsubstantiated refunds worth K8.9 million among others.

The Auditor General Stepheson Kamphasa faulted the Judiciary for not following procedures for management of fuel expenses, saying “there was no record of fuel allowances spent.”

Menyani: wants the truth on the missing money

The Judiciary were called to PAC to respond to audit queries.

Appearing before PAC, Patemba  led a delegation which included chief accountant and deputy sheriff of the High Court, and she conceded that the payments were  “mistakenly charged  to wrong budget lines” contrary to Treasury instructions.

Patemba, who is acting registrar of the High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court for Appeal,  told the committee the Judiciary requires that officers sign for the fuel allowances in cheque register book.

“There is no requirement for production of receipts,” she said.

She said Judiciary officers failed to obtain receipts because some trips were made in rural areas which did not have service station and they conveniently paid allowances rather than topping up fuel cards

But PAC led by its chairperson Alekeni Mwenyani were not convinced with the explanations, saying they needed evidence that indeed the money was spent on fuel  for official duties.

“We need to put a stop to this, As a committee of Parliament, we are at pains to accept this ,” said Mwenyani.

“When you don’t explain an expenditure, there is a consequence for that.”

Menyani said the evidence they needed was  “vehicle log books where the mileage was entered to correspond with the fuel requested.”

He said if they fail to account for the funds, they should “pay back this money to Malawians.”

A member of the committee, former Minsiter of Health Peter Kumpalume said explanation by Patemba was not plausible to justify for flouting public finance management regulations.

The Judiciary will have another date to submit their  evidence of the fuel expenditure, the committee deputy chairperson Kamlepo Kalua said

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