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.
Nation Â 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 wasÂ payment ifÂ fuel allowances not accounted for worth K7.2mill bulk purchase of fuel not accounted for Â 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; Â 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 âthere was no record of fuel allowances spent.â
The Judiciary were called to PAC to respond to audit queries.
Appearing before PAC, Patemba Â led a delegation which included chief accountant and deputy sheriff of theÂ HighÂ Court, and she conceded that the payments were Â âmistakenly charged Â to wrong budget linesâ contrary to Treasury instructions.
Patemba, who is acting registrar of theÂ HighÂ CourtÂ of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court for Appeal,Â told the committee the Judiciary requires that officers sign for the fuel allowances in cheque register book.
âThere is no requirement for production of receipts,â 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 fuelÂ for official duties.
âWe need to put a stop to this, As a committee of Parliament, we are at pains to accept this ,â said Mwenyani.
âWhen you donât explain an expenditure, there is a consequence for that.â
Menyani said the evidence they needed wasÂ âvehicle log books where the mileage was entered to correspond with the fuel requested.â
He said if they fail to account for the funds, they should âpay back this money to Malawians.â
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 theirÂ evidence of the fuel expenditure, the committee deputy chairperson Kamlepo Kalua said
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