• April 24, 2024

Malawi Tobacco Control Audit Exposes Overages

 Malawi Tobacco Control Audit Exposes Overages
The Tobacco Commission's headquarters in Lilonge | Photo: Taco Tuinstra

A board of commissioners-ordered internal investigative audit of the Malawi Tobacco Commission exposed “extravagant over-expenditure and other stupendous financial irregularities” of the 2022–2023 fiscal year budget, according to the Nyasa Times.

Internal Audit Manager Rhoda Zaniku noted in her summary that the commission overspent by MWK22 million ($20,339.04) for the enforcement, liaison, monitoring and evaluation budget, indicating a 357 percent negative variance. The commission’s majority of votes were overutilized by more than the planned activity budgets.

Billboards worth MWK25 million were not budgeted for the 2022–2023 fiscal year. They represented 89 percent of the actual cost of enforcement, liaison, monitoring and evaluation charges. The billboard supplier, Optima Group, requested an 80 percent advanced payment—the commission granted 70 percent “contrary to the Secretary of Treasury instructions, which banned suppliers demanding payments before delivering goods or services.”

Travel and media budgets were also overspent as well as the budget for tobacco consultative meetings and the budget for motor vehicle running maintenance. The internet and VPN budget was overused as well. The audit also showed that the commission had no policy or guidelines on how to use afforestation levy money—only using MWK4.4 million of MWK8 million to procure tree seedlings, with the rest used on materials and expenditure for the National Tree Planting Day event.

“The audit exercise noted that there was no evaluation process when procuring some goods and service [and] that the IPDC [Internal Procurement and Disposal Committee] used the fixed team to evaluate process of procuring of goods and services,” the audit report said.

Of the commission’s budget votes, 40 of the 72 were spent in excess in violation of treasury regulations and the Public Finance Management Act.

Zaniku stated that the Tobacco Commission’s management “must abide to the approved budget for their planned activities or seek approval from the relevant authorities stipulated in the Public Finance Management Act and other statutory guidelines.”