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Critics demand punishment of K6.2 bn looters

Critics are imploring the government to act swiftly on recommendations made in the recently released report on the usage and accountability of the 6.2 billion kwacha Covid-19 funds.

The audit report has established that a large sum of the funds have been lost to irregular procurement processes.

The audit which was ordered by President Lazarus Chakwera was conducted by the National Audit Office-NAO and delivered to parliament yesterday.

According to the NAO, funds were largely misappropriated through flouted procurement processes, unjustifiable allowances, fuel, with other sums being unaccounted for.

For instance over 493.9 million kwacha accounts for expenditure flaws in procurement, over 80 million for allowance irregularities, over 83 Million kwacha was on irregular cash transfers out of which 12 million kwacha went missing.

The development comes against concerns of inadequate funding and support for hospitals in the fight against Covid 19 during the time the funds were being plundered.

Among the recommendations, the NAO advises that officers who took part in the malpractice pay back the money and that the malpractices that are criminal in nature be handed over to law enforcement agencies.

Reacting to the revelations, political analyst George Phiri hints that President Chakwera’s next move will determine his administration’s stance on dealing with corruption;

National Coordinator for the Human Rights Defenders Coalition Luke Tembo has emphasized that all they want is for justice to be served and a total repayment of the misappropriated funds.

Leaders of the coalition also insist the government must put in place a recovery plan for the plundered money or demonstrations will be held on April 29.

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Meanwhile, Procurement specialist Louis Uko is highlighting on the need to effectively implement the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act.

Uko describes the culprits as selfish officers who deliberately flouted procedures for personal gains and should be punished.

The Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act outlines how goods should be purchased in public offices such district councils, ministries, departments and agencies.

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