Uncle Harvest on POWERS OF THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE

Parliamentarians must always bear in mind the doctrine of separation of powers.

The chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee of the Malawi Parliament, Hon. Shadreck Namalomba MP recently indicated that the Parliamentary Committee will embark on a lifestyle audit of top former and current government officials to check if the wealth they have corresponds with their earnings.

Under the current circumstances Malawi is going through, following the Mk 6.2 billion Covid19 issue, it is very easy to take this for granted.

However, some careful thought need to be put on this matter before PAC ethusiastically jumps into this task, Section 19(f) of the Public Audit Act notwithstanding.

In the first place, Parliament established a government entity that is responsible for matters to do with the declaration of assets by public officers.

This entity is responsible for exactly that action that PAC that says will undertake.

Isn't it prudent for PAC to charge the rightful legal government entity to carry out that exercise.

Their duty would be to receive the report from that entity.

If PAC feels the entity does not have sufficient powers, Parliament should give that entity the necessary power.

If it feels the employees of that entity are either incapable or incompetent to carry out that exercise, then appropriate action on the personnel must be taken.

Parliamentarians must always bear in mind the doctrine of separation of powers.

It does not matter how urgent a matter is, the right organs of the government charged with that matter must be given the charge to conduct their business.

It is for this reason that the National Audit Office is carrying out a forensic audit of the Mk 6.2 billion whose report will be presented to PAC.

PAC cannot want to be involved in the actual implimetation of executive business or audits.

Similarly, it is the duty of the appropriate government entity charged with declaration of assets that has to conduct lifestyle audits not PAC.

PAC's business is to receive, scrutinize and make recommendations based on the audit reports.

PAC's duty is not to carry out audits.

A sober and objective rethink on this matter by PAC is needed.

The spirit of Section 19(f) of the Public Audit Act does not give power to PAC to indulge in business that the law already assigns an entity to carry out that business.

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